The 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers are going to look a lot different than last season. The addition of Russell Westbrook was arguably the biggest splash of the summer, but the rest of the new players should play a big role in their pursuit of a championship.
Speaking of championships, the Lakers are also welcoming back some players who have won a title with the Lakers in the past. Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo are back after a one-year hiatus and Trevor Ariza returns after winning the chip in 2009.
The Lakers still have two roster spots available and while they will be minimum contracts, they will have options available to them as they see fit. With the addition of Rondo, the Lakers could use more depth at the wing. Let’s take a look at some of the better options they should consider to fill out the roster:
Starting this list with a no brainer, in my opinion. Matthews has the familiarity of playing with the Lakers and was vocal about wanting to come back this season. While his addition will only further the retirement home narrative, the soon to be 35 year old still showed to be decent defensively and should shoot better from beyond the arc this season.
Going into the off-season, it seemed like the Lakers and Matthews would come to an agreement rather quickly, but it has not happened. Also Kent Bazemore took Matthews’ jersey number, so that didn’t bode well for his return.
Nevertheless, Matthews fills a need for the Lakers that they will desperately need. He is able to guard bigger wings, which will come in handy when the Lakers face teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors and the Clippers.
Another former Laker on this list, who was part of the 2020 championship run but opted out of the bubble for family reasons. Bradley has been known for his defense for his entire career and during his lone season with the Lakers shot the ball well from the mid range. Most will remember the 24 point outburst he had against the Clippers on Sunday prime time game.
The NBA is loaded with some talented point guards, so Bradley would be a nice asset defensively to help swarm the perimeter. At 30 years old, Bradley would be a younger body on the roster and while he is only 6-foot-3, he is pesky enough to generate some steals and put pressure on the opposing backcourt.
James Ennis III
You can always use a guy who can shoot the ball, especially from beyond the arc. Ennis can be that man. The 6-foot-6 small forward has been a journey man his entire career, but shot 43.3% from three last seasonshot 43.3% from three last season with the Orlando Magic.
The Lakers could offer him a prominent role off the bench if he’s able to be solid on defense and shoot the ball like he did last year. Ennis has not played for a contender like the Lakers in his career, so he could bring that unique hunger to a team full of accomplished players.
The addition of Westbrook came with the assumption that Anthony Davis would play the center position more oftenplay the center position more often during the regular season and especially the playoffs. The Lakers already have Dwight Howard back after he was a crucial part of their run in 2020, so where does DeAndre Jordan fit?
Also, it seemed Marc Gasol was a lock to come back to the purple and gold next season, but reports say otherwise. It’s no secret Gasol and the Lakers had their issues last season, but he at least can help spread the floor. If Gasol does indeed get traded or both parties agree to part ways, then Jordan would make more sense.
Jordan was a part of the Nets last season, but did not play much, so it’s safe to assume he would come to Los Angeles knowing he won’t play much. Jordan is still under contract but reports indicate that he and the Nets are working on a buyout and that the Lakers have shown interest in the veteran.
Johnson came into the NBA with a lot of promise as the eight overall pick in the 2015 draft. His game was compared to that of Kawhi Leonard, but unfortunately never lived up to the expectations in Detroit. Now, after playing for the Raptors the last two seasons, the Arizona Wildcat is a free agent. He is yet another wing the Lakers should take a flyer on.
Johnson at 6-foot-6 brings great size to the perimeter and his defense is above average. Unfortunately, he does not shoot the ball well, which is why some people might be against this signing. However, at only 25 years old, the Lakers could definitely use some fresh legs to throw at the likes of Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, and Donovan Mitchell to name a few.