With a deadline last week for teams to set their rosters for the NBA restart at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the Los Angeles Lakers did so with 17 players.
Their roster includes the recently-signed JR Smith as the only new face as he was brought in to replace Avery Bradley, who decided not to join the team in Orlando due to health concerns for his eldest son.
The Lakers have 15 players under NBA contract: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook, Anthony Davis, Jared Dudley, Danny Green, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee, Markieff Morris, Rajon Rondo, Smith and Dion Waiters. Additionally, L.A. is taking two-way players Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok.
Howard was included prior to announcing his intentions to join the team. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had nonetheless said there was not any intention of replacing Howard even if he decided to opt out.
Training camps are set to begin with the Lakers traveling to Orlando on July 9. All teams will be able to practice and have three scrimmages before the seeding games begin on July 30. The Lakers are part of the NBA’s first night of return as they are slated to face the L.A. Clippers.
The Lakers’ seven other games will come against the Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings. Each will be broadcast on Spectrum SportsNet in addition to ESPN or TNT.
One of the most important things for the Lakers coming into this restart will be rediscovering the chemistry they had and figuring out their best rotation, especially with the loss of Bradley. Though, the Lakers are taking matters slowly.
“It’s too early to really start to talk about rotation and starting lineup, because this process is so fluid,” vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said on a conference call. “We’re excited that right before the hiatus we added Dion Waiters, we added Markieff Morris. Obviously, there’s going to be more time to integrate players like that. Then we’ll have this replacement player.”
While Morris was able to play in a few games, Waiters was barely able to get in some practice time before the season was halted. And of course andSmith will just be joining the team, so Vogel and the coaching staff will have a lot of work to figure out the best rotation, especially in the backcourt.
With Bradley gone, Caldwell-Pope, Caruso, Rondo, Waiters and Smith will all be looked upon to step up in different situations. Obviously in the end, this team will go as far as James and Davis carries them, but we now know the players who will suit up and try to bring the Lakers their 17th NBA championship.
Lakers prioritized medical staff, are without Lionel Hollins
Beyond players, the Lakers took with them an abundance of medical staff into the bubble. “Honestly, it was fairly miserable having to place a value on everybody’s contributions,” Vogel said of putting together a travel party.
“There are several members of our staff that we’re not going to be able to bring into the bubble. That’s just part of the pandemic life and situation we’re in. It was a miserable experience trying to measure all those things and figure it out.
“We landed in a place of basically giving us the best opportunity to be healthy, support our players and compete to win games. I will say, like most teams, we did load up on medical personnel.
“Just because of the history of players coming back in lockout-type situations, the high risk of injury, additionally with the COVID protocols and potentially having guys out.”
On top of already trimming into the number of coaches they planned to take, another option was removed from the pool when assistant Lionel Hollins was flagged due to medial reasons.
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