The Los Angeles Lakers front office did their thing this summer. When you take a moment to analyze their payroll for the 2023-2024 campaign, there really are not any salaries that should raise concerns in correlation with their recipient.
From top to bottom, this is a roster of reasonably compensated professional basketball players. It would be rational to claim that every single player outside of maybe LeBron, AD, and the two inbound rookies (who are constrained to the CBA’s rookie scale restrictions) is actually underpaid.
Most of these fellas could have more than likely fetched fatter finances elsewhere, but the limelight of Los Angeles combined with the shot at a ship proved too tempting for them to pass on.
With so many guys looking like bargains in terms of their market value around the league, it is tough to conclude the biggest steal of the bunch. Scratch that, that should be quite an easy call to make. Beyond that, though, the rest of the rankings become a bit more difficult. So before the regular season tips off and we actually get a chance to witness each player prove their worth, let’s take a stab at power ranking the Lakers roster based on their 2023-2024 salaries.
Ranking every Lakers salary by value:
1. Austin Reaves | $12 Million
He may not be the best overall player on this team, but there is no denying that he should be receiving larger direct deposits on paydays. That is especially true after his contributions for Team USA, but it was already true even before that showcase.
The fact that LA retained him without having to match a larger offer sheet is still puzzling, and the entire organization should send out thank you cards to opposing front offices that had the cap space to put the Lakers in a difficult situation this summer. Surely they would have matched any offer that Reaves received, but the fact that they did not have to opened up a lot more flexibility as to what they could do with their cap space.
2. Anthony Davis | $40.6 Million
$40.6 million is a lot of funds to allocate to any one individual player. When that one individual player has the potential to completely control an entire game on both ends of the floor, though, that amount seems much more minuscule. AD may not possess the prettiest injury pattern history, but any franchise would kill to pay him a maximum salary to do the things that he does on the basketball court.
3. LeBron James | $47.6 Million
If you think that $40.6 million is a lot of money to pay an oft-injured big man, then you certainly believe that $47.6 million is a crazy amount to pay a 38-year-old (39 in December) who has endured his own battle with the injury bug in the past few seasons. Considering that same player is also now the eldest active player in the NBA, you may have a legitimate case with that opinion.
This is not the same player as any other player that we have ever seen, though. Furthermore, he may go down as the greatest hooper in history when his time in the league inevitably comes to a close.
And if his head coach’s public declarations regarding his re-discovered burst ring true, then you can add that to the list of reasons to pay the man top dollar. No one should be complaining about his contract status, and everyone should simply be appreciative to have his name on the books.
4. Taurean Prince | $4.5 Million
Extending beyond the Big 3, the team has a bunch of role players on bargain contracts. While any of those role players could very well prove to be the most beneficial to the team’s aspirations, Taurean Prince signing for the bi-annual exception is bonkers.
Obtaining the services of a proven 3&D combo forward who is in the midst of his prime years is robbery. Enlisting his services on the court may be big time, but his presence in the locker room will be the true treasure within his contract.
5. Jarred Vanderbilt | $4.7 Million
Vando’s recent contract extension is a reasonable rate for what he brings to the table. With that pay increase set to kick in next season, his measly monetary commitment this season should be cherished by the entire organization.
This is an amount roughly 2.5 times lighter than what he will earn beginning next season. His relentless, versatile defensive skillset is already enough to justify his contract. If he can further enhance his offensive bag, he could rapidly rise into the Austin Reaves level of the underpaid elite. Many forget that he will not turn 25 until April, making him a comfortable fit in the team’s future plans or a viable trade piece later on down the road.
6. Gabe Vincent | $10.5 Million
Dennis Schroder, whom Gabe Vincent will essentially replace on this year’s roster, is set to make $13 million in 2023-2024. With all due respect to Schroder, that seems a bit pricey for a backup point guard with an attitude problem tied to his bench relegations and an extremely streaky jumper.
Enter Vincent, one of the latest examples of the Heat Culture development program. Many were stunned when the Lakers swiped him from Miami for the mid-level exception, but have you seen many complaints in regards to this signing? The answer to that question should be no, and the reason for that answer is due to Vincent’s competency in running an offense and stability defending opposing perimeter threats.
7. D’Angelo Russell | $17.3 Million
D’Lo’s self-destruction in the Western Conference Finals probably cost him the $25 million annual salary that he was reportedly seeking this summer. With that in mind, his new contract is only structured for two seasons (expires after 2024-2025) and he will have an excellent opportunity to earn a raise on his next deal.
For now, his 2023-2024 salary is more than reasonable when factoring in what he can do on offense. He has quietly become a bit forgotten amidst Austin Reaves’ ascension, but make no mistake that he could still easily fit the label as this team’s third-best player. If he replicates what he did after the midseason acquisition from Minnesota, his cap hold could feasibly go down as theft by season’s end.
8. Rui Hachimura | $15.7 Million
Rui and Reaves were among the hottest commodities on the open market this summer. With such a sparse crop of wings/combo forwards available in free agency, Rui definitely had his options behind closed doors. His postseason performance undoubtedly raised his ceiling in terms of potential contract offers, and it is fair to assume that he could have taken a bigger offer from another suitor.
Getting the 6’8″ wing built like a bulldog back for roughly $15.7 million next season (along with two additional seasons under team control) was a magnificent bit of monetary maneuvering by Rob Pelinka. His versatility on both ends is strongly sought after in the modern NBA, and he has building block potential whenever the LeBron era ends.
9. Max Christie | $1.7 Million
While Christie actually faired quite well in his rookie campaign, he was still a bit on the shrimp side of the spectrum when it came to his physique. Flash forward to Year two, and Christie has clearly put in the work to build a body better equipped for battle.
Not only have his physical characteristics matured since last season, but early indications seem to signal a massive leap as an overall player could be looming for the sophomore. If that leap comes to fruition, than we will all look back on this ranking with laughter. $1.7 million is chump change when it comes to wings that can genuinely impact an NBA game, and Christie appears ready to prove he is worth much, MUCH more than that come next offseason when he enters restricted free agency.
10. Christian Wood | $2.9 Million
It still may come as a surprise to some that Christian Wood was unable to receive more money this offseason. The dude is an absolute bucket. But while basketball is a game played on a court, professional basketball players are held to a higher standard off the court. Regardless of how talented a player may be, no team is going to desire to bring them on board if they come with negative energy.
That seems to be the case with Wood. So far in his short Laker tenure, he has said all of the right things. As the season progresses, he may be able to relinquish his past demons from previous stops on his professional journey. If he consistently exemplifies a team-first mindset, he should have no problem declining his player option for 2024-2025 and adding another digit to his annual salary.
11. Jaxson Hayes | $2.1 Million
Similar to Wood, Hayes comes to Los Angeles with a history of character concerns. The 23 year old also enters the fold with the ability to make his mark as a Laker this season. Whether he earns consistent minutes in the frontcourt or finds himself cheering on his teammates from the sidelines for a majority of the season, Jaxson Hayes still has a ton of potential as an NBA big man. Do not lose sight of the fact that he was very much in the starting lineup conversation earlier in the offseason.
12. Cam Reddish | $2.1 Million
Things have just not gone according to plan thus far in the career of Cam Reddish. As a 6’8″ wing with lanky arms and a slithery offensive skillset, he entered the league with high expectations after the Hawks selected him in the 2019 NBA Lottery. General Managers and coaching staffs dream of players with his build and level of talent.
He just has not been able to put the pieces together, which translated to his minimum-level salary this summer. Reddish has his work cut out for him looking ahead to 2023-2024, as the Lakers have put together a nice collection of wings. Just like Hayes, he has a chance to turn things around this year. For now, his salary seems to align correctly with his career output to this point.
13. Jalen Hood-Schifino | $3.7 Million
It is never easy to truly gauge the overall contract value for a rookie before a season due to the previously noted CBA rookie-scale contract provisions and policies. Plus, JHS finds himself on a title contender, and we have seen a history of NBA coach’s reluctance to entrust rookie players on winning teams. His contract value may turn out to be a bargain, but we more than likely will not be able to truly determine that until the conclusion of next season.
14. Maxwell Lewis | $1.1 Million
Maxwell Lewis may very well turn out to be the second consecutive gem named Max that Jesse Buss and the scouting department have selected in the second round. He has the physical tools to grow into a quality NBA wing, but it is on him to put in the work to get to that point (just ask Cam Reddish). Just like his rookie companion JHS, his overall contract value will be tough to discern this season. We must remain patient with the rooks, as their time should come and we should have a much clearer measure of their value in the seasons to come.