The Los Angeles Lakers reshaped their roster this offseason through free agency and a blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook and now have to figure out what their starting lineup will look like around the newly-established big three.
While LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook are obvious locks for starting roles and big minutes, the center and shooting guard positions are still up for grabs, with a variety of veterans in the running.
Bleacher Report projects that veteran sharpshooter Wayne Ellington will take over the shooting guard spot, taking over for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who started almost 200 games for the Lakers from 2017-2021.
Ellington started 31 games for the Pistons last season, averaging 22 minutes per game. He put up 9.6 points per game and 42.1% from beyond the arc — nearly his career best.
Ellington would add some valuable shooting to the starting five and is worth his weight on the defensive end. Other options for the spot include Kendrick Nunn, Kent Bazemore, Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker, or the Lakers could even decide to give future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony a look.
Lakers Veterans Have Firm ‘Team-First Attitude’
The Lakers’ flurry of signings this offseason all came to the table with a similar mindset of being flexible about their roles. Nobody was promised a starting gig or a certain amount of minutes. The goal is simple — to win a title.
“Put the team first. Put the team first and be ready to do what’s needed of you,” Ellington told reporters after signing. “I’m a guy that’s has been in all of those situations. I’ve been a guy that has come off the bench. I’ve started. I’ve played a little, I’ve played a lot. I’m prepared. I’m ready for all that stuff, so I think as long as you put the team first and have that mindset that we’re coming into this thing to help win a championship and keep that goal at the top of the list, we’ll be just fine.”
What bodes well for Ellington is that the Lakers have three lethal scorers in Westbrook, James and Davis, which will afford him some good looks from deep.
“With the type of attack game and type of ability a lot of the guys in obviously Russ and LeBron [James], AD and the attention those guys demand,” Ellington said. “The way they get into that paint and the way teams have to guard those guys, my 3-point shooting is going to be a premium, so I look forward to being able to complement those guys. I feel like I’m going to get some of the best looks out of not only my NBA career but in my life this coming season.”
Marc Gasol Question Mark for Lakers
Gasol is one of the few players the Lakers are slated to bring back. However, Gasol will turn 37 next season and looked like he was slowing down at times last season. He averaged just over 19 minutes per game with the Lakers last season, starting 42 of the 52 games he played in.
Gasol has one year left on his deal and said he wants to play out that commitment following the Olympics. However, his future in LA might not be so cut and dry.
“I’m hearing that Marc Gasol is not a lock to return to the Lakers, even after Gasol said following Spain’s quarterfinal loss to the United States in the Olympics that he intends to play out the final year of the two-year deal he signed with Los Angeles,” veteran NBA insider Marc Stein reported this week. “It’s not yet clear if that means Gasol is poised to be set free to play elsewhere in the NBA or if he would ultimately opt to finish his career in his home country like brother Pau.”
Bleacher Report has Gasol penciled in as the starter for the Lakers at center, although that could easily shift to Dwight Howard, who the team was ecstatic to bring back this offseason.