Pacific Division Roundup: Los Angeles Lakers

Aug 9, 2023, 11:23 AM | Updated: 11:26 am

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 04: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) attempts a shot on Sacram...

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

NBA training camps will open next month, meaning we are closing in on the start of the 2023-24 season.

As we prepare for another exciting season of Sacramento Kings basketball, it’s time to look around at the Pacific Division and check on what the five returning NBA Playoff teams have done to upgrade their rosters this summer.

Which teams have made the most significant changes? Although Sacramento is the reigning Pacific Division champion, has another team done enough to its roster to take the crown?

Let’s dive in.

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Los Angeles Lakers

  • 2022-23 record: 43-39
  • Place in Pacific: 5th (last)
  • Finish in Western Conference: 7th seed
  • Playoffs: Lost 0-4 to Denver Nuggets in Western Conference Finals

As constructed, the 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers started off the season as a train-wreck.

Through February 9th–the day of the NBA trade deadline–Los Angeles had limped to a 25-31 start, putting themselves three games behind the 10th and final Western Conference postseason spot.

A roster that was built to run behind a motor of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook ran into problems early as Westbrook underperformed and Davis missed 20 games from December 18th through January 25th due to a foot injury.

Upon Davis’ return, the Lakers continued to struggle before James was lost for a long stretch due to high-grade ankle sprain.

As Los Angeles continued to struggle to find an identity, Lakers general manager completely re-shaped the roster during the deadline by trading away Westbrook, guard Patrick Beverley, center Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones, and Juan Toscano-Anderson for the following rotation pieces:

  • Defensive forward Jarred Vanderbilt
  • One-time All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell
  • Scoring guard Malik Beasley
  • Shot-blocking big Mo Bamba
  • Versatile wing Rui Hachimura

Following the deadline, Los Angeles looked like–and played like–a completely different team.

The Lakers posted a 19-8 record over their final 27 games to finish seventh in the West, where they defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Play-In before besting the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round (4-2).

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Los Angeles de-throned the then-defending champion Golden State Warriors by winning the semi-final series in six games, but the Lakers run into the buzzsaw of a Denver Nuggets team during the Conference Finals.

Denver swept Los Angeles in four games, although each game was close as the Nuggets’ average margin of victory was six points.

What have the Los Angeles Lakers done to upgrade its roster this summer?

Pelinka has been hard at work this summer, as the Lakers arguably have had one of the best offseasons out of any team thus far.

Los Angeles made the following moves to bolster its roster:

  • Signed Anthony Davis to a three-year, $186 million extension through 2027-28
  • Re-signed Austin Reaves to a four-year, $53 million contract
  • Re-signed D’Angelo Russell to a two-year, $36 million contract
  • Re-signed Rui Hachimura to a three-year, $51 million contract
  • Re-signed Jarred Vanderbilt to a three-year, $13.1 million contract
  • Signed guard Gabe Vincent to a three-year, $33 million contract
  • Signed center Jaxson Hayes to a two-year, $4.6 million contract
  • Signed forward Taurean Prince to a one-year, $4.5 million contract
  • Signed guard Cam Reddish to a two-year, $4.6 million contract

Here’s how the Lakers’ current depth chart looks, per ESPN:

Departures: Dennis Schroeder, Mo Bamba, Lonnie Walker IV, Tristan Thompson, Troy Brown Jr.

Los Angeles has added plenty of firepower to its core of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, although the blueprint of this team remains true:

If one or both of James and Davis are lost for an extended period due to injury, trouble will likely follow for this Lakers team.

If healthy, the Lakers are sure to be in the mix for an NBA Playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.

Sacramento Kings Offseason Schedule

  • August TBD – 2023-24 NBA regular season schedule release
  • September TBD – Sacramento Kings training camp begins
  • Sunday, October 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 PM PST (Preseason opener)
  • October TBD – NBA regular season begins

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Pacific Division Roundup: Los Angeles Lakers