After bowing out of the playoffs in the first round this year, the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to make some major changes this offseason. But no one could’ve predicted just how aggressive they would get.
In the first 24 hours since the official start of free agency, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has completely overhauled the roster and given LeBron James and Anthony Davis a complementary group of veterans to round out the team. The 2020 NBA champions have scooped up talent from around the league and now seem poised to mount another title run.
As soon as free agency began on Monday night at 6 p.m. ET, the Lakers started to make their moves. The first signings came just over an hour later as veteran forward Trevor Ariza and sharpshooter Wayne Ellington agreed to one-year deals to come aboard.
From there, the floodgates opened. Dwight Howard agreed to a one-year deal, marking his third career stint with the Lakers and Kent Bazemore came back to the team for his first time since 2014. The biggest bombshell dropped on Tuesday afternoon when Carmelo Anthony revealed that he would team up with LeBron for the first time in his career.
The Lakers rounded out a whirlwind 24 hours by signing three guards who will provide the team with much-needed three-point shooting. Malik Monk agreed to yet another one-year deal, while Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn signed multi-year contracts.
Here’s a complete look at all of the deals that the Lakers have gotten done in the last 24 hours:
- Trevor Ariza: 1 year
- Wayne Ellington Jr.: 1 year
- Dwight Howard: 1 year
- Kent Bazemore: 1 year
- Carmelo Anthony: 1 year
- Malik Monk: 1 year
- Talen Horton-Tucker: 3 years, $32 million
- Kendrick Nunn: 2 years, $10 million (player-option in second year)
Updated Lakers depth chart:
PG- Westbrook, Nunn
SG – Ellington, THT, Monk
SF – LeBron, Bazemore, McKinnie
PF – Davis, Melo, Ariza
C – Gasol, Howard
— Justin Phan (@jphanned) August 3, 2021
The Lakers did part ways with members from last year’s roster already in free agency, such as Alex Caruso (Bulls), Andre Drummond (76ers) and Markieff Morris (Heat). Point guard Dennis Schroder is also expected to move on with another team.
Fans were quick to point out that the new-look Lakers are filled with older players, many of whom have reached a different stage of their careers. In fact, of the 13 players under contract, only five are under the age of 30.
Nevertheless, NBA Twitter couldn’t help but be impressed by what Pelinka and the Lakers were able to get done in this year’s free agency.
Oh. Lakers in 6!!! Carry on…
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) August 3, 2021
We’ve gone from “ damn lakers are a retirement home lmaoo “ to “ damn lakers stacked the deck for lebron “ in less than 24 hours pic.twitter.com/V81qdl9n4v
— jw (@iam_johnw2) August 3, 2021
LeBron watching the Lakers go crazy in free agency pic.twitter.com/91MiTYG1X2
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) August 3, 2021
LeBron and Pelinka after the Lakers signed Kendrick Nunn pic.twitter.com/WbGESFFV1W
— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) August 3, 2021
Make that 13 players under contract with the vet minimum exception available.
A strong 3 signings with Monk, THT and Nunn
$42.3M projected tax bill which would be the largest in Lakers history. https://t.co/MmYgaXjmmx
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) August 3, 2021
The Lakers turned off all the sliders and decided to build an ultimate team. 😂
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) August 3, 2021
Lakers have 30 players https://t.co/mHRtnUO6ze
— Dom2K☘📈 (@Dom_2k) August 3, 2021
i think it would be easier if woj just told us who the lakers weren’t signing
— Molly Morrison (@mollyhannahm) August 3, 2021
The lakers are a super team with all due respect 😭
— Mark Jackson’s Burner (@casualtakeking) August 3, 2021
“How do the Lakers keep signing players to minimum deals???”
Rob Pelinka: pic.twitter.com/AVXxiwpRkY
— Ricky’s Propaganda Network (@MrRickySpanish) August 3, 2021
Of course the Lakers moves began before the NBA Draft last week when Pelinka pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Washington Wizards to land Russell Westbrook. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma all went back to the Wizards in the deal.
All in all, the Lakers have received glowing marks for their moves this offseason and now find themselves with a roster that should adequately complement their best players. Age may be a factor for one of the oldest teams in the league, but experience could prove the difference maker next year in the playoffs.
The start of the 2021-22 NBA season can’t come soon enough.