Lakers Thank Former Players From 2020-21 Season That Landed Elsewhere
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

After a first-round exit in the 2021 NBA playoffs, change was inevitable for the Los Angeles Lakers and their roster.

Injuries were the primary culprit for the Lakers’ disappointing finish in their title defense, but even so that team had several clear flaws on it. Shooting was a glaring problem for the Lakers as they did not have many reliable 3-point shooters, so Rob Pelinka went above and beyond in free agency to address this by signing several players who can shoot like Wayne Ellington, Carmelo Anthony and Kent Bazemore. Los Angeles was also short on playmakers outside of LeBron James, so Pelinka also executed a blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook, who will absolutely be able to take over more ballhandling and playmaking duties.

With the roster completely overhauled, the Lakers have a good shot to get back on track and hopefully stake their claim as the best team in the NBA. But in the process, they did lose several players.

The Lakers made sure to thank the players on last year’s roster, starting with those who a championship with the franchise, via the tea’s official Twitter:

Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma all played pivotal roles during the Lakers’ 2020 championship run and would have been useful people to have for next year’s season. However, Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma were included as key pieces in the deal that brought L.A. Westbrook while Caruso and Morris found new homes with the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, respectively.

Although their tenures were short, Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder were all thought to be impact additions when the Lakers initially acquired them. However, it was clear that they did not fit the team’s vision for the upcoming year. Harrell was also a part of the Westbrook trade, while Drummond and Schroder would surprisingly sign one-year deals with the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. Schroder, in particular, was hit the hardest in free agency as his market cooled considerably and had to settle for a much cheaper contract than anticipated.

Lastly, Alfonzo McKinnie and Ben McLemore did not get much playing time with the Purple and Gold, though they did have their moments throughout the regular season. Even though these players no longer don Purple and Gold, fans should still consider them to be Lakers forever.

Tommy Sheppard explains decision to trade Russell Westbrook

The trade between the Lakers and Washington Wizards to bring Westbrook to Los Angeles materialized quickly, and general manager Tommy Sheppard explained his decision to part with the All-Star guard and send him home.

While Westbrook’s one-year tenure in Washington didn’t end as hoped, he now is back in L.A. with a legit chance to win his first championship.

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