The LA Lakers made some brilliant off-season moves that helped them win the 2020 NBA championship.
The LA Lakers front office led by VP Rob Pelinka traded for the New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis in a massive three-team deal. Needless to say, the move worked out well and did wonders for the team.
Following their 2020 NBA title, the LA Lakers revamped their roster in the off-season ahead of their 2020-21 campaign. They added Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews, among others and let go of Dwight Howard, Danny Green and JaVale McGee.
It is highly unusual for a championship-winning team to change their roster immediately after winning a title. The LA Lakers intend to go back-to-back, but to do so, the defending champions will have to do with their revamped squad.
On that note, let's take a look at five players the LA Lakers should look to retain for next season.
Five players the LA Lakers should keep for next season:
It's no secret that the LA Lakers like making big moves and surprising deals; they plan for their future without looking sight of the present.
The LA Lakers have a 36-year-old LeBron James who has signed an extension. But they cannot waste his talent in a mediocre roster. Following injuries to James and Davis, the LA Lakers signed Andre Drummond.
He is a young 27-year-old center who is a beast in cleaning up the glass. He has led the league in rebounds four times and has a career average of nearly 14 boards per game. But with many players on their roster entering free agency at the end of the season, let's take a look at five players the LA Lakers should look to retain.
#5 Montrezl Harrell
The LA Lakers acquired Montrezl Harrell from their cross-town rivals, LA Clippers, in the off-season; Harrell has been nothing short of great.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year didn't expect a starting role to begin with, but he has fulfilled his responsibilities for the team. Harrell is averaging 25 minutes off the bench while contributing 15.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per outing.
He gets nearly three offensive boards a night, giving the LA Lakers second-chance opportunities, and is also known for his hustle and energy.
Although not renowned for his scoring, Harrell also makes buckets when needed to. He has had 12 20+ point outings this season and is averaging 21 points and 9.3 rebounds since LeBron James got injured.
#4 Alex Caruso
Nicknamed 'The Caru-show', Alex Caruso has turned into a LA Lakers fan favorite. The 26-year-old guard has been with the team since 2017 and is trusted with the ball in his hands.
He averages 20 minutes off the bench and contributes 5.6 points, three rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Caruso is valued for his defense and hustle mentality; he gives his all in whatever minutes he plays and occasionally hits threes off the catch.
The LA Lakers should retain him for several reasons. He is nicknamed 'The Caru-show' for his highlight dunks and put-backs and doesn't hesitate to defend just about anybody. He doesn't shy away from a challenge and brings amazing energy to the court.
Caruso is best famous for his put-back dunk against the Golden State Warriors in 2019 and for dropping 16 points and two blocks in Game 4 against the Houston Rockets in last year's Western Conference semi-Finals.
#3 Dennis Schroder
Young guard Dennis Schroder was acquired by the LA Lakers in the 2020 off-season.
After Rajon Rondo left the team in free agency, the LA Lakers needed a playmaking-oriented guard who could help LeBron James in organising the floor. Schroeder also has defensive attributes, which is why the LA Lakers should retain him.
Head coach Frank Vogel recently said that Schroder brings energy to the LA Lakers in defense; his metrics and statistics don't always portray his full capabilties. In Vogel's words:
"His impact has been felt more at the defensive end than even the offensive end...His speed is a problem for opposing teams. It’s a problem for guys like Kemba Walker and Trae Young when they’re trying to get into the lane, when they’re trying to beat him off the bounce."
#2 Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris is on a $2.3 million salary and enters free agency after this season. He has been an incredible bench piece for the LA Lakers, as he performs whatever role the team asks him to do.
Morris is a combo guard-forward type player and does everything from defense to shooting threes consistently. He is usually the first choice of the team when a starter goes down with injuries, as he can play any position from 2-4.
In the 41 games he has played this season, Morris has started 17.
Markieff Morris also hit crucial three-pointers in last season's playoffs. The LA Lakers must certainly retain Morris, as he is a critical piece for their bench depth. He has great chemistry with the team and immense playoff experience as well.
#1 Talen Horton-Tucker
The 20-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker is one of the most obvious names on this list. Although he doesn't contribute as much as the other players on this list, his ceiling is sky-high.
According to several sources and reports, the LA Lakers refused to deal with any team asking for Horton-Tucker ahead of the NBA trade deadline.
Nicknamed 'THT', he became a fan-favorite in the few games and minutes he has played. Tucker is tough and competitive and doesn't shy away from contact.
THT is constantly developing, and many predict that he could be an All-Star in the league. Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy spoke about THT ahead of their matchup with the LA Lakers:
"As he starts shooting the ball more consistently, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in this league."
His physical frame and length make him an ideal guard-forward combo player. So the Lakers should look to retain him, as he is their future.