The Los Angeles Lakers made roster moves during the free agency with the hopes of protecting their title as NBA Champions.
While the team has a few newcomers, the front office desired to keep the core players. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka mentioned how the core worked well together.
“Continuity is obviously incredibly important,” Pelinka said. “I think the team that came out of the bubble with the trophy, probably in addition to having the right talent also had just the right chemistry to survive in the “Lord of the Flies” experiences in the Bubble.”
After opting out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent, forward Anthony Davis signed a five-year, $190 million contract with the Lakers. Davis scored 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while they were in the Playoffs.
The Lakers most recently signed center Marc Gasol. The three-time NBA All Star noted that the Lakers was one of the first teams that called him; he desires to help the team maintain their status as contenders.
“It boiled down to a chance of winning another championship and contributing to a team that is really good,” Gasol said. “Having a sense of being part of a great team and seeing how the coach and the [general manager] and everyone felt that I could contribute to that, that to me said a lot.”
Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, signed on November 22, shocking some Clippers players. He made 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game last season.
“It’s a business decision,” Harrell said about choosing the Lakers. “I’m definitely gonna be with a team that wanted me and with a group of guys that I feel like I’m gonna gravitate well to.”
Guard Dennis Schröder is honored to don the purple and gold. Pelinka called him an “elite playmaker.”
“What I bring every night on the defensive end, offensive standpoint, I think it’s gonna fit this organization, this team, especially with [Anthony Davis] and LeBron (James), but the other guys too,” Schröder said.
Schröder has spent most of his career with the Atlanta Hawks and the last two seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. During the 2017-18 season, he averaged 19.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game.
“[Schröder] is a player that other teams hate to play against, but his teammates love to play with because he has that nasty tenacity,” Pelinka said. “That’s really at the center of how we play.”
Another new addition is guard Wesley Matthews; he scored 7.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game for the Milwaukee Bucks. Through his 11-year career, Matthews has an average of 13.1 points per game with his scoring average reaching its peek during his time with the Portland Trailblazers from 2012-2015.
Pelinka noted how James and Davis are drawn to players with grit. During their time in the Bubble, many teams believed that the Miami Heat played the hardest. The Lakers want to have a similar reputation.
“I think the combination of high-IQ players that also play with a tenacity and a high level of confidence and not backing down,” Pelinka said. “It’s been a core of the type of players we want to see on the team.”