LeBron cleaned out the entire Lakers squad. It took him only two years to do this.

Basketball

LeBron cleaned out the entire Lakers squad. It took him only two years to do this.

LeBron James is slowly but surely on his way to a second title with the Lakers. As soon as he joined Los Angeles in 2018, the team began a major reshuffle. As a result, no one was left of that team in place, except for the King himself. In the upcoming season, James will try to lead a completely new team to the championship.

LeBron is the only player to stay with the Lakers since 2019. After a one-year absence, veteran Rajon Rondo also returned to the team, receiving an expensive contract with the Atlanta Hawks and transiting through the Los Angeles Clippers to the Memphis Grizzlies, who expelled him. In any case, Rondo was also purged. Even compared to the 2020 championship team, there have been big changes in the lakeside roster. The new team gradually lined up exclusively around LeBron.

James is actually the general manager of the club. Without his approval, not a single significant move in the market is made. So it was LeBron who cleaned out the entire Lakers squad (and not only – inexperienced head coach Luke Walton was replaced by Frank Vogel, more suitable for LeBron) from the moment of moving to California. It took him only two years to do this. Where are those with whom he started his championship path in Los Angeles now?

Kyle Kuzma and Kentavius ​​Caldwell-Pope ended up at the Washington Wizards together. Both were included in the trade for star point guard Russell Westbrook this summer. In the 2018/2019 season, they were the main players in the rotation. Kuzma has since noticeably slowed down in terms of performance, rumors about his exchange were constantly circulating, but by some miracle, Kyle managed to stay in the team with LeBron for a long time. He failed to take advantage of the absence of Anthony Davis due to injury last season, which was the final verdict for the player. LeBron doesn’t need such a partner.

Caldwell-Pope, in turn, remained one of the key players of the team until recently. He made a particularly big contribution to the championship last year. Los Angeles could not consistently pay him more than $ 10 million, despite working with agent Rich Paul , who also represents LeBron himself. Now Kyle and Kentavius ​​will play side by side in the Wizards, and for the team from Washington, this is still a good boost.

Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball will play for Chicago from the new season. They started out together for the Lakers in the 2017 Summer League. Young Lonzo was drafted number two by the Lakers, while Caruso made his way through the Development League. They spent two years together in the team, after which Ball became part of the deal to exchange Anthony Davis in 2019. He had spent two previous seasons at the New Orleans Pelicans. Caruso played all four years at Los Angeles, but this summer they decided not to renew his contract. There was no room left on the payroll to reward him generously. As a result, the former teammates got big contracts with the Bulls. Ball will make $ 85 million in three years, Caruso $ 37 million in four.

Two other players included in the Davis trade in 2019 – Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram – continue to play together for the Pelicans. Ingram was one of the most promising players in the then Lakers, but he did not live up to expectations and did not become the second Kevin Durant. In his new position, he clearly improved, even though he has to share leadership functions with the first number of the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson. And oh, how difficult it is. Brandon became the most progressive player in the league in 2020, but failed to bring the Pelicans to the playoffs in two years of joint performance with Zion. He can show statistics in the regular season, but at the decisive moment he does not drag the team. LeBron hardly regrets that Ingram left.

But Hart is an unremarkable role player, and he still has to fight for a place in the starting five. In New Orleans, he remains in the third plane, as he did in Los Angeles. But the new club decided to give him a chance – in the offseason, Josh received a $ 38 million extension until 2024. However, only the first year (for $ 12 million) is fully guaranteed in his new contract. Hart is good at defense and rebounding, but he has a lot of work to do on the offensive aspect of the game. Will overwhelm the upcoming season and will not receive $ 26 million for the second and third years of the contract with Pelicans. You will probably have to subscribe to a minimum wage or so.

Javail McGhee , another important Lakers player of 2019, signed with the Phoenix Suns this summer. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last fall and ended up at the Denver Nuggets at the end of March. In both teams, McGee received “trash” 13-15 minutes and really failed to prove himself. But in the Suns, he will become a good strengthening in defense and will be able to replace Deandre Ayton. McGee has won three NBA titles and gold at the Tokyo Olympics. This guy acts as a kind of mascot for the contenders. Phoenix probably took him not only as a relatively reliable backup option, but also had player titles in mind.

The role-players of the then Lakers also continue to perform well in the league. Ivica Zubac , for example, firmly established himself in the Clippers. For two seasons, he did not miss a single regular season match and consistently received 18-20 minutes of playing time. Reggie Bullock had a good season with the Knicks and moved to Dallas, becoming one of the team’s few offseason acquisitions. But for Lance Stevenson and Michael Beasley, leaving Los Angeles in 2019, apparently, was the last point. Both have not played a single NBA match since then. This year, neither Stevenson nor Beasley were selected even in the G-League draft. But there are still minimal chances of seeing them in the upcoming season. Both are screening league clubs and are hoping to get a guaranteed contract.

The situation with the current roster “Lakers” has already been sorted out “from” and “to” many times. The composition is extremely old, but eminent. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Deandre Jordan, Rajon Rondo have all participated in the All-Star Game more than 50 times. And it was also the eminent Mark Gasol who left the team, who was twice called to the MZ. For many of them, this season will surely be, if not the last of their careers, then the final attempt to compete for the championship in the league.

Even LeBron is already approaching the end of his career. The Lakers want it here and now, so most of the rookies were signed for just one year. Regardless, LeBron and company remain among the top title contenders for the upcoming season. Only the Brooklyn Nets have the best chance of winning the Larry O’Brien trophy.

With LeBron joining the Lakers, a lot has certainly changed. The team became a contender for the title, for this they had to carry out a total purge of the composition. Over the past three, the team has built exclusively around James. Moreover, his word plays a key role in the formation of the team. How successful his attempt to win the championship will be in the coming season is anyone’s guess. But there is no doubt that if the new Lakers roster fails, there will be another clean-up next summer.

 

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