June 20, 2024

Who should the Lakers bring back next season?

Who should the Lakers bring back next season?

The Lakers have a lot of roster decisions to make in the coming months, but who should the team bring back next season?

The offseason awaiting the Lakers is certainly set to be an interesting one. A number of the bigger decisions are not going to be in their control, like LeBron James’ return or D’Angelo Russell’s player option.

The team is also stuck between two ideas as well, coming off an offseason last summer in which they preached continuity while also being repeatedly linked to the likes of Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell. All that comes, as well, after a second-straight exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Denver Nuggets.

That begs the question of who should this team bring back next season? Let’s take a look at the roster, one by one.

Maxwell Lewis

The Lakers took a risk by drafting two project players last summer. While it might lead to long-term gain, it led to zero production out of them in the short term. Lewis had nothing more than garbage time minutes this year, so it’s really hard to say what he’ll become.

Because of that, if it takes tossing Lewis in a trade to get it over the hump, I don’t think the Lakers should or would hesitate.

Should he return? Yes, but certainly not untouchable.

Max Christie

Christie was woefully underused this season. Given the flashes he showed throughout the year, if the coaching staff had consistently given him minutes, Christie could have played in the postseason and offered the team help.

But by not playing him, there is actually a benefit now in that, as he enters the restricted free agency market, there shouldn’t be any notable offers that will force the Lakers into a tough decision. It seems very likely he’ll return and he should along with the expectation of a bigger role.

Should he return? Yes

Cam Reddish

This is one of those that is out of the Lakers control. Reddish has a player option and while there’s an argument to make that he could turn it down with a new coach that may not value him, there’s a stronger argument that he may not get a veteran’s minimum contract offer from another team.

That being said, as is the case with a couple of guys on minimum contracts, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lakers try to salary dump them with second round picks. Reddish had way more than his fair share of opportunities and failed to impress.

Should he return? No, but that’s not really under their control.

Jaxson Hayes

If this question had been asked midway through the season, it would have been a strong no. But after a surprisingly good second half, I actually wouldn’t mind Hayes returning. He was a good backup center and probably should have been used more alongside Anthony Davis.

The question for him is will he turn down his option to look for a bigger role and does one exist for him on the open market?

Should he return? Yes

Spencer Dinwiddie

Whatever the Lakers expected Dinwiddie to be when he came to Los Angeles, it never worked out that way. He never found a rhythm and it led to inconsistent production and, come playoff time, very little production.

The Lakers have a number of young guards that are likely to be on the roster next season. I’d much rather give them opportunities than run it back with Dinwiddie.

Should he return? No.

Christian Wood

This one is kind of a moot point as Wood has already reportedly picked up his player option. Conversely to Hayes, if this had been asked midseason, the answer would have been yes. But a poor second half of the year coupled with an injury changed his season.

Add him to the potential players who get moved to make room for fresh faces.

Jalen Hood-Schifino

A preseason injury set JHS behind the eight ball early and he never caught up. While he did have some cameos in non-garbage time, they weren’t pretty. His strong play in the G League gives some reason for optimism moving forward, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was moved as a sweetener in a deal.

If he returns, there probably needs to be a clearer path to playing time for him. That happens with D’Angelo Russell opting out or some of the log jam of guards is cleared out.

Should he return? Yes, I still believe

Taurean Prince

One of the lightning rods for fans this season, the usage of Prince last season became a hot-button topic. His best role was the one he eventually landed on and he showed why he was seen as a great value signing then.

You can never have too many 3-and-D wings. If he’s willing to return, the Lakers should be open to it.

Should he return? Yes

Jarred Vanderbilt

I don’t think anyone sans LeBron James and Anthony Davis should be outright untouchable. But I would put Vanderbilt and Reaves in the tier below them where the only way they should be dealt is if it’s one hell of a deal.

Should he return? Yes

Gabe Vincent

I think judging Vincent off a season where he played only a dozen games and was thrown into the fire at the end of the year is very unfair. It’s hard to take much away from last season because of how abnormal it was.

If he can be the defender the Lakers thought he would be, then that alone makes him valuable as the team severely lacked a point of attack defender last season.

Should he return? Yes

Austin Reaves

As noted above in the Vando section, I really am high on Reaves and think he should only be included in a trade if it’s for a surefire superstar. The chemistry he has with LeBron and AD will be hard to replace on top of him being on a great value contract.

Rui Hachimura

This is a very interesting place for Rui. On one hand, I still think he’s a young forward that can create his own shot, things that are hard to find in the league. At the same time, there are some big question marks that arose after his struggles against Denver.

Perhaps putting him in a role off the bench where he can focus more on scoring would help. But I think if there’s anyone with a bigger contract that could be moved, Rui would be very high on that list.

Should he return? Probably, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s traded

D’Angelo Russell

As someone who has been an ardent fan of D’Lo’s, it’s really hard to make an argument for him to return in the same role after consecutive postseasons where things went awry. The problem for the Lakers is that they’re not in control of this situation.

D’Lo was mocked a bit for saying he was going to use the leverage he had in his exit interview, but he certainly has some. If he leaves, the Lakers don’t open up cap space and can’t replace him easily.

But he’s likely not going to pick up his option because that effectively guarantees the team is trading him. So, do the Lakers pony up and pay him what he’s looking for only to re-enter the cycle of “Will we or won’t we?” when it comes to trading him again during the season?

Should he return? Probably not

LeBron James, Anthony Davis

Grouping these two together for obvious reasons. Anyone arguing that either of these two shouldn’t return doesn’t know ball.

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