Since the offseason began, the Los Angeles Lakers remain one of the league’s busiest teams. The Lakers retooled the roster around its star talent in hopes of returning to NBA title contention. The efforts have led LeBron James and Russell Westbrook to push toward getting a former All-Star to Los Angeles.
Lakers revamp the roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis
After the Lakers fell to a disappointing first-round playoff exit, the front office quickly restructured the roster.
Los Angeles began the transition with a blockbuster move acquiring former league MVP Russell Westbrook to bolster the backcourt. Westbrook fits the bill as the playmaking guard to play alongside James and Davis.
Meanwhile, general manager Rob Pelinka worked to get several proven players such as Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore, and Malik Monk under veteran’s minimum deals. Outside of those moves, the team used its mid-level exception to sign Kendrick Nunn and re-signed Talen-Horton Tucker. Los Angeles rounded the roster with versatile defenders and shooting that the team lacked last season.
As the Lakers fill out the final roster spots, James and Westbrook are working on getting a former All-Star aboard.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are working to get a former All-Star to the Lakers
As the Lakers round out the roster, the organization is eyeing adding a more substantial backcourt presence.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the front office recently gave former two-time All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas through a workout with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook on Tuesday morning. The increased traction around the 32-year-old came after he recently scored 81 points in a pro-am game while voicing he’s 100 percent healthy.
Thomas’ last NBA stint occurred last season on a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, where he played three games off the bench, averaging 7.7 points in 16.0 minutes per contest. Since then, he’s remained afloat in free agency, hoping to receive another opportunity to reignite his NBA career.
Thomas previously played alongside James in Los Angeles during the 2017-18 season, where he averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 assists in 26.8 minutes per contest in 17 games with one start. The Lakers expanded their backcourt search to also working out Darren Collison and Mike James.
Collison retired after the 2018-19 season and contemplated returning during the 2019-20 campaign. He heavily considered joining the Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers, but he chose to remain retired. Meanwhile, James played the latter portion of last season with the Brooklyn Nets.
Beyond that, it’s become quite clear the team is zeroing in on adding backcourt help, and Thomas may fit the bill.
Los Angeles is eyeing NBA title contention
The almost entire restructuring of the Lakers’ roster underlines the team’s desire to return to NBA title contention.
Although questions remain concerning Westbrook’s fit alongside James, it’s hard to overlook the impressive haul Los Angeles made in free agency. The front office managed to sign seven players to contracts worth around a combined $15 million, with the vast majority taking veteran’s minimum one-year deals.
Criticism has come directed toward the roster’s age, but the Lakers added a strong mixture of shooting and versatile defenders around the star talent. The heavy lifting will still come from their newly formed Big 3, but possessing proven talent around them should help ease the workload while providing balance.
Ultimately, it will come down to proving it on the court. However, there is much reason why the expectations are high around Los Angeles heading into the 2021-22 season.