The Los Angeles Lakers began addressing their roster for the 2020-21 season early as they reached a trade agreement to acquire Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Trading for Schroder was a prudent move by Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka as Rajon Rondo wound up leaving for a two-year deal with the Atlanta Hawks. Losing Rondo is notable, but Schroder is arguably an upgrade given his age and scoring ability.
In order to grab Schroder, the Lakers had to ship out Danny Green, which left a hole at the wing. However, that was addressed by signing Wesley Matthews to a one-year contract worth a reported $3.6 million deal.
According to David Aldridge of The Athletic, Matthews was lured to the Lakers with the appeal of starting:
For Wes Matthews, being able to step directly into a starting role with the Lakers created by the Danny Green trade to OKC was too good to pass up, per source. One instance where the compressed end of season/draft/FA period/start of next season probably didn’t help Milwaukee.
— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) November 20, 2020
Matthews was a key piece of a Milwaukee Bucks team that was projected to win the 2020 NBA championship, but now gets another shot to chase after his first ring with the Lakers. Like Green, Matthews is a capable perimeter defender who is able to check bigger wings, a necessity in today’s NBA.
Aside from his stout defense, Matthews is also a steady 3-point shooter as he knocked down 36.4% during the 2019-20 season, slightly below his career 38.1% average. However, unlike Green, Matthews is more adept at hitting spot-up looks.
That’s paramount as those are the type of shots he will see a steady dose of playing next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
This is about as perfect of a signing Los Angeles could have hoped for and looks even better after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope agreed to return on a three-year deal. A starting backcourt of Matthews and Caldwell-Pope is exactly what the purple and gold need and should have them as frontrunners to repeat as champions.
How Lakers should fill out rest of roster
After agreeing to a $40 million contract with Caldwell-Pope, the Lakers will only be able to offer veteran minimum contracts for their remaining spots.
L.A. addressed their need down low by reaching an agreement with Markieff Morris for the minimum. The Lakers should be able to bring back Jared Dudley, but another wing player would be ideal as well.
Someone like Nicolas Batum would fit the mold and could be a steal after a disappointing stint for the Charlotte Hornets.
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