Next Season’s Los Angeles Lakers Roster May Look Familiar


The season is nearly over for the Lakers, which means the front office — recently ranked third worst in the NBA by ESPN — will soon turn its attention to how the roster can be improved over the summer. Last year was bad, but this season has been beyond excruciating. The worst players have usually started and played the most minutes, while better players languished on the bench, all in an effort to lose in order to preserve a top draft choice.

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  • Everyone just assumes next year’s team will look very different from this year’s roster. But will it? It is impossible to predict, because it all depends on whom the team signs in free agency (if anyone) and who it is able to draft. If they focus on the point guard position, players such as Jeremy Lin may depart. If they focus on the front court, Ed Davis and Jordan Hill will likely leave. Few other than Kobe Bryant are safe. The painful truth is, especially if they strike out again in free agency, next year’s team might look similar to the current roster but with more rookies added to the mix.

    Who will stay and who will go? There might be a few unpleasant surprises in store for Laker fans.  A warning – what follows might be upsetting but it is as likely a scenario as any.

    The Guards

    1. Ronnie Price: Should he return? No. Will he return? Yes. The big reason is Byron Scott likes Price’s hard nose attitude and aggressive style of play. How else can you explain the number of games he started this year? It is hard to imagine Price starting any games next year, but since he can be signed for a minimum salary, it is not hard to imagine him being invited back to fill out the roster and mentor some of the younger players.

    2. Wayne Ellington: Should he return? No. Will he return? Yes. Like Price, Ellington is a Scott favorite. His job was to replicate Jodie Meek’s outside shooting. Ellington is decent, but as his recent 3 for 19 performance demonstrated, he is just not a strong, consistent shooter and the Lakers’ biggest needs this year has been more reliable outside shooting.

    3. Jeremy Lin: Should he return? Yes. Will he return? No. Lin, like certain other players, has been mishandled this season so we do not know what might have been. He has played very well since the All Star break, but with Scott at the helm, and Bryant returning, it is not a good fit and Lin knows it.

    4. Jordan Clarkson: Should he return? Yes. Will he return? Likely, but not certain. Clarkson is a work-in-progress but with great talent and determination. I have no questions about his future as a player, however, the top big men in the draft will likely be gone by the time the Lakers make their selection and the next best draftees are thought to be point guards. Plus, the Lakers have their eye on Goran Dragic and Rajon Rondo. If the coaching staff is unconvinced about Clarkson’s future at point guard, it is at least possible he could part of a trade package to fill a more pressing need.

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    5.  Kobe Bryant: Should he return? No. Will he return? Yes. I love Bryant and appreciate all the memories he has given Laker fans. But after three major injuries, and 19 years in the league, it is time for him to retire. His presence only delays the rebuilding process.

    The Forwards

    6. Wesley Johnson: Should he return? No. Will he return? Yes. Before you say I’m crazy, did you ever think Johnson would be asked to return this season? He is the only true small forward on the team. This will not be the case next season, but still, all the talk surrounding the team is about centers and guards. Johnson is inexpensive. We should not be surprised if he returns on another one-year contract in a reserve role.

    7.  Nick Young: Should he return? No. Will he return? Yes. Young will be 30 next season and will never be more than an okay player on a bad team. He is not Scott’s kind of player, as his focus is more on providing laughs than improving his basketball skills. However, he is the one player with a long term contract – another inept move by the front office. The team will try to trade him this summer but it is likely there will be no takers, so his return is probable.

    8. Carlos Boozer: Should he return? Maybe. Will he return? No. Boozer’s fate should turn on whether the Lakers are dramatically better next season. He is a good leader, and in a reserve role he can still be effective on a playoff team. If the Lakers are foundering and in full rebuilding mode, there is no point keeping him and he will want to move on.

    9. Ryan Kelly: Should he return? No. Will he return? Yes. I don’t care what position he is playing, I’ve seen enough of Kelly to know he is not a legitimate NBA player and will never be more than a below average player on a bad team. Still, he is under contract for next season and judging from the amount of playing time he has consistently been given this year (despite his poor play), Scott must like him.

    10. Julius Randle: Should he return? Yes. Will he return? Yes. I am not yet sold on Randle from the small sampling we saw in the summer league and preseason. However, the Lakers have bet their future on him so he will be back. Let’s hope he stays healthy.

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    11. Jordan Hill: Should he return? Maybe. Will he return? No. Hill has enjoyed a pretty good season and stayed healthy. His mid-range shooting is dramatically improved, but it takes him away from the basket where his greatest value was his ability to fight for offensive rebounds. His game has probably peaked, and he is better in a reserve role than as a starter. It appears the team’s number one priority this off-season is to attract a top tier big man. If that happens, Hill’s $9,000,000 option is too rich, he will become a free agent, and he will likely sign elsewhere.

    The Centers

    12. Robert Sacre: Should he return? No. Will he return? Yes. Sacre lives a charmed life. He is not by any means a great NBA player but has stayed on the team for three seasons now. Not only has he stuck around, he has played far more than I ever imagined. I’m betting he gets a fourth opportunity to be a Laker, though I have no idea why.

    14. Ed Davis: Should he return? Yes. Will he return? No. Why Davis has been so underutilized by the coaching staff is the biggest mystery of the year for me. Davis is the one player who was not given a chance to start during the second half of the season. His minutes per game, though low all year, dwindled to less than 20 recently, and the last two games he has not played at all. If the Lakers value and respect Davis they have a very unorthodox way of showing it. After watching players such as Kelly, Sacre, Price and Johnson start for much of the season and play more consistent minutes, Davis should do himself a favor and move on to what will surely be greener (and saner) pastures.

    Before you start calling me names, remember that the better players will want the security of multi-year contracts while the team will want to maintain flexibility for when Bryant retires, which means filling out the roster with players who will accept a one year deal for minimum money. That is why Meeks, Jordan Farmar, and Kent Bazemore – three of the better players on last year’s team€“ accepted offers to play elsewhere last summer. This is the current economic reality of the NBA, and certainly the mindset of the Lakers.

    Next: Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Potential Line-Ups for 2015-16