NBA free agency: Projected lineup for Lakers with Russell Westbrook

NBA free agency: Projected lineup for Lakers with Russell Westbrook

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NBA free agency: Projected lineup for Lakers with Russell Westbrook

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The Los Angeles Lakers always generate a ton of headlines, but this year that has happened even more as they have added several big names.

Whether it’s new names like Russell Westbrook or Carmelo Anthony or familiar faces like Trevor Ariza or Dwight Howard returning home, the Lakers are as star-studded as ever. So we wanted to take a look at what their lineup is going to resemble when the season begins.

Note that this depth chart will be inherently incomplete until we know the status of Dennis Schroeder. The Lakers can also spend the $5.9 million taxpayers’ midlevel exception to add more depth, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks. They can potentially retain Wesley Matthews and Markieff Morris as well.

We already know that the roster is old – there are five players who are older than 35 years old and eight players over 32 years old – but for now, here is a better idea of what the depth chart looks like in Los Angeles.

Point Guard

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

STARTER: Russell Westbrook

DEPTH: Kendrick Nunn, Dennis Schroeder*

While the Lakers could have landed Buddy Hield surrendering fewer assets, Los Angeles decided to put all of their chips on the table instead for a bigger name in Russell Westbrook. It’s unclear if the organization will keep Dennis Schroeder, though it seems most likely he leaves either via sign and trade or outright. As such, we can expect either Westbrook or LeBron James as the primary facilitator the majority of the time with Kendrick Nunn as the floor general in the second unit.

* Free agency decision still to be determined

Shooting Guard

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

STARTER: Wayne Ellington

DEPTH: Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk

The best news here is that the Lakers will retain 20-year-old former Iowa State standout Talen Horton-Tucker. Eventually, the emerging talent may find his way into the first unit for Los Angeles. But until then, it’s fair to slot the sharpshooting veteran Wayne Ellington in that role because of his shooting. He and Kent Bazemore will be able to help space the floor, which is a must for any lineup that features Westbrook. Meanwhile, Malik Monk can help as a sparkplug scorer off the bench.

Small Forward

Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

STARTER: LeBron James

DEPTH: Kent Bazemore, Alfonzo McKinnie

The Lakers will only go as far as LeBron James can take them and fortunately, before his injuries this past season, that proved to be pretty far. Despite his age, James was still playing MVP-caliber basketball. While his durability may have taken a hit, expect James to still operate the offense as the primary option for Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.

Power Forward

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

STARTER: Anthony Davis

DEPTH: Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza

Playing the five in the NBA is about as physically demanding of a job as there is, so Anthony Davis prefers to play the four to preserve his health for a long as possible. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James will finally have a chance to play alongside one another. The longtime friends both came into the league via the 2003 NBA draft and although James is a four-time champion, Anthony still wants his ring. He already has titles in the NCAA and has won gold with the Olympics, so a chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy is exactly what he needs next. Los Angeles will also have Trevor Ariza, who grew up nearby and attended Westchester High School before attending UCLA and then winning a title with the Lakers in 2009.

Center

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

STARTER: Marc Gasol

DEPTH: Dwight Howard

Perhaps the Lakers give the starting nod to Dwight Howard, who offered elite rim protection during his stint with the Lakers when they won the title in 2020. But for now, the smart move is to let Marc Gasol run with the first unit so that the starting five has as much shooting as possible. Another option is to have Anthony Davis play as the center and then move Carmelo Anthony or Trevor Ariza to the four.

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