After news that the Lakers will sign a one-year deal worth $2.6 million with DeAndre Jordan, the team now has four homegrown players in its roster: Davis, Howard, Gasol and Jordan.
Despite the uncertainty of Gasol’s permanence, the team now has enough players for the position for the coming season.
The Nets negotiated Jordan with the Pistons, who agreed to buy the remainder of Jordan’s contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Once the buyout agreement is signed, Jordan will have to clear the waivers before he can become a free agent and sign with the Lakers,” wrote the ESPN reporter.
Therefore, Jordan will be playing with the Lakers next year. See how the team’s cast looks at this moment:
Projected starting quintet
PG: Nunn, Rondo
SG: Monk, Ayayi, Reaves
SF: Bazemore, Horton-Tucker
PF: Anthony, Ariza
C: Jordan, Gasol
Of course, the only starting lineup issues are second point guard and pivot around the big three LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
Ellington must be the owner of the frame. No one in the current roster has shot better out of three last year than Ellington, who hit 42.2% of his attempts.
The Lakers need a sharpshooter capable of hitting the wide open shots Westbrook, James and Davis will create, and Ellington fits that. The veteran started 31 of his 46 games last year with the Pistons and averaged 9.6 points per game.
Monk must be the best backup on the team. The 23-year-old hit a career record of 40.1 percent in the three-point range last year, up from 28.4 percent the year before. He also hit 43.4 percent overall shooting for the second year in a row.
The Lakers can go in several different directions from their starting pivot, but the best route might be to put Howard in the starting lineup and Jordan in the immediate reserve. It is not yet known whether Gasol will remain in the team, but at this point in the championship, it will be difficult to imagine the Spaniard having regular rotation.
Jordan may not offensively space the ground, but he has always remained efficient and productive. He averaged 7.5 points on a career-best 76.3 percent performance and 7.5 rebounds in just 21.9 minutes per game with the Nets.
The Lakers have turned to JaVale McGee as a starter and Dwight Howard as a backup during the 2019-20 title season, and they can back off on that plan with Jordan replacing McGee.
Like Jordan, Howard was very efficient with limited time in 2020-21, finishing the year with 7.0 points and 58.7 percent use and 8.4 rebounds with the 76ers. He and Jordan could each play about 20 minutes per game to stay active in the team rotation, finishing alley-oops and collecting rebounds every night.
Injuries have reduced Gasol’s last two seasons, and he also tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020-21. This naturally hindered his game on the court, and he averaged just 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last year.
Gasol is clearly capable of playing better, but he will also turn 37 in January. His best days are clearly behind him, and he might be better off getting off the bench if necessary.
Ultimately, this Lakers team has a lot of depth, thanks to its load of quality veterans. They may not have any superstars outside their big three, but that cast-building might be good enough for a second NBA title in three years.