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Lakers Aim For Mature Roster in Free Agency
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published August 5, 2021

Russell Westbrook (AP photo)

After their first-round exit from the NBA Playoffs by the Pheonix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers filled their roster with the league’s most notable veterans.

It all started on July 29, when the Washington Wizards traded guard Russell Westbrook for guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, forward Kyle Kuzma, center Montrez Harrell second-round picks in 2024, and 2028, and a 2021 first-round Draft pick.

Westbrook helped the Washington Wizards have a contending run last season, making a career high of 11.7 assists per game. In his career, Westbrook made 23.2 points per game and averaged a triple double in four different seasons.

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In 2019, Westbrook expressed interest to Kawhi Leonard about playing for Los Angeles. This information led Leonard to recruit Paul George as a teammate. Two years later, Westbrook finally earned a chance to play for a team in his hometown.

More of the Lakers’ young players began to depart as guard Alex Caruso signed a $37 million, four-year deal with the Chicago Bulls. Center Andre Drummond signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.

While Drummond and Harrell recently joined the Lakers squad, Caruso and Kuzma were the longest-tenured Lakers on the 2020-2021 roster. Caruso had a hustler’s spirit that helped the Lakers win the 2020 Championship, shooting at 43.6 percent in field goals throughout his career.

The Texas native will be getting a significant pay raise, earning $8.6 million for his first season with the Bulls after the Lakers paid him $2.7 million last year.

Kuzma dazzled Lakers fans with his 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game during his rookie season but became a role player after forward Anthony Davis arrived in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, the Lakers and forward Anthony agree to a one-year deal. Anthony and James were in the 2003 NBA Draft together and have been friends throughout their careers. Anthony is the only current NBA player who has four Olympic medals.

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During his 18 years in the NBA, Anthony shot at 35.3 percent in three-pointers and scored 23 points per game.  The 10-time All-Star spent the last two seasons with the Portland Trailblazers, helping them reach the playoffs.

Anthony spent the first eight years of his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets before being sent to play for the New York Knicks.

Lakers star LeBron James (left) speaks with Carmelo Anthony (Courtesy Photo)

Anthony has made 13 Playoffs appearances but has never reached the conference finals.

Ariza hopes to return to the conference finals in the purple and gold after being out for 12-years. Like Anthony, Ariza is known for his three-point shot accuracy and shot at 35.2 percent throughout his career. The last time he was in a conference final, Ariza was helping the Lakers secure their 15th championship.

Ariza also played for the Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, and the Phoenix Suns.

Early in his career, Howard guided the Orlando Magic to five Playoff appearances. In 2009, the Orlando Magic reached the NBA Finals but fell to the Lakers in five games. During that playoff run, Howard scored 20.3 points and 15.3 rebounds per game.

Guard Wayne Ellington played for the Lakers during the 2014-2015 season, getting 36 starts and 10.0 points per game. Ellington had a career high of 12.0 points per game and shot at 42.1 percent in field during the 2018-2019 season when he played for the Detroit Pistons.

Despite being in the NBA for 12 years, Ellington has only competed in three different Playoffs. In the postseason, Ellington scored 7.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.5 steals. Ellington has played for several teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Detroit Piston, and the New York Knicks.

Guard Kent Bazemore turned down a two-year contract with the Golden State Warriors for a one-year contract with the Lakers. Bazemore has been in the NBA for nine seasons, but only had four seasons where he reached the Playoffs.

During the 2015-16 Playoffs, Bazemore had 10 starts and scored 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. During the 2013-2014 season, Bazemore played for the Lakers for 23 games.

Along with playing for the Atlanta, Bazemore played for The Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings and the Portland Trailblazers.”

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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