The Los Angeles Lakers have reshaped their roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis for next season, constructing a younger roster in contrast to the one they had in 2021-22.
They drafted Max Christie in the second round and signed Scottie Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider to two-way contracts. In free agency, the Lakers have also brought in Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr., Damian Jones, and Juan Toscano-Anderson. The younger roster should create more hustle plays and fresher bodies for the 2022-23 campaign.
LA was unable to make it to the playoffs in 2021, which was a big disappointment. With that said, here are two moves the Lakers still must make after the first weekend of the 2022 NBA free agency if they want to compete for the title.
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Lakers: Two Moves LA Must Make
2. Sign Thomas Bryant
While Thomas Bryant is not a star, he could be a solid role player for the Lakeshow. The former Laker is a young center that could be impactful for LA.
Bryant missed most of the 2021-22 season with the Washington Wizards and was not great in the games he appeared in. However, the year prior, when healthy, Bryant showed that he could be a good center. This makes the Lakers an ideal situation for him to sign, even though it will be for a minimum contract.
Malik Monk didn’t receive much interest last offseason, leading him to sign with LA on a minimum. Monk then had a career year, which increased his value and led him to sign a two-year, $19 million deal this offseason with the Sacramento Kings.
Bryant can come to the Lakers for the year and up his value heading into the next offseason.
1. Trade for Kyrie Irving
This is the most obvious and best move for the Lakers to make. Russell Westbrook’s fit with Los Angeles was not great, and moving him could help the team improve.
The Kyrie-to-LA rumors have been circling this offseason but were shut down when the Brooklyn Nets opted into his player option. However, a few days later, Kevin Durant requested a trade, opening the door back up for an Irving trade. While the Lakers don’t have a ton of assets, they have some sort of leverage in the negotiation with the Nets as the only suitor.
Irving also reportedly wants to go to the Lakers as soon as he can. This puts Brooklyn in a predicament as Irving can leave for nothing at the end of the upcoming season. The other and more likely option is trading him to the Purple and Goldand getting some value back.
The trade proposal is reported to include Russell Westbrook and draft picks for Irving and Joe Harris or Seth Curry. Westbrook is entering the final year of his deal worth $47 million. In order to make the salaries match, the Nets will have to include another player besides Irving.
LA prefers Curry, who has one year remaining on his deal for $8 million. Either Harris or Curry would be a good rotational piece and shooter for the Lakers to add. The current roster lacks elite shooting, and these guys could help them improve in that facet of the game.
The main piece of this trade is Irving, who would be reunited with LeBron and join Davis in a Big 3. This would put Los Angeles back in championship contention after winning the title in 2020.
An Irving move to the Lakers is considered likely by many. If Los Angeles can pull off this deal, they will be ready to compete with any team.