The Los Angeles Lakers went through an overhaul of the roster of sorts during the NBA offseason. The team knew changes had to be made, and as a result, some of Frank Vogel’s best defensive players have headed elsewhere.
In one fell swoop, the Lakers lost some of their best perimeter defenders in free agency and through the blockbuster trade to acquire Russell Westbrook. Alex Caruso headed to the Chicago Bulls, Dennis Schroder ultimately signed with the Boston Celtics while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was sent to the Washington Wizards in the Westbrook deal and Wesley Matthew remains unsigned.
Vogel recently addressed the team deciding to part ways with some of their best defensive players on the perimeter in favor of Westbrook and other veteran players that struggle on that end of the basketball floor on Spectrum SportsNet’s “LakeShow” podcast with Chris McGee and Allie Clifton:
“We have good basketball players and we have two-way players,” Vogel said. “It may not be specialists on the defensive end, but they’re not liabilities either. Everybody is gonna be asked to guard the best player on the other team, it’s not gonna be one elite defender that’s gonna go and chase that guy. Everybody is gonna be asked to do it as a committee and what I like is that there’s that team ability and I like the size that we brought back, the elite rim protection. So even though on the perimeter, we lost Dennis, KCP, Alex, Wes Matthews, we lost guys like that, but we have guys that compete on the perimeter and we have protection behind them the way we had it two years ago and I think that will be a strength of ours.”
There’s no question that the Lakers have gone from a team that prides itself on the defensive end of the floor to a team that will depend on star power and proven veterans that may be past their primes.
Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Rajon Rondo and Westbrook are solid additions, but they are past the prime of their respective careers in the league. However, this combination of veterans could be the right recipe for another trip to the NBA Finals, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way.
The Lakers have sacrificed young and capable defenders for veterans striving for a title. Whether that gamble pays off for Vogel and company remains to be seen.
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