Lakers' 2021 NBA Preseason Schedule Released; Opener Set for Oct. 3 vs. Nets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 6, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Anthony Davis (3) during a time out in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
AP Photo/Derick Hingle

The 2020-21 NBA season didn't go the way fans of the Los Angeles Lakers hoped, but the 2021-22 preseason is just three months away.

On Tuesday, the Lakers unveiled their slate of preseason games. They'll get things started Oct. 3 against the Brooklyn Nets:

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Mark your calendars, the 2021 pre-season schedule is out now.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LakeShow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LakeShow</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/Delta?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Delta</a> <a href="https://t.co/MrDA92Tihp">pic.twitter.com/MrDA92Tihp</a>

Three months will sound like an eternity for members of the Lakers' 2020 championship roster, who had just 71 days between the 2020 Finals and the start of the 2020-21 season. The mileage seemed to add up as Los Angeles saw LeBron James, Anthony Davis and a number of others miss games because of injuries.

Having more time off was a silver lining when they lost to the Phoenix Suns in the first round.

The preseason is a time for the players to ramp up physically for the games that matter. It's also an opportunity to build on-court rapport between the holdovers and new additions to the roster.

The Lakers may not see much turnover in personnel.

Los Angeles has 11 players eligible for free agency, including Montrezl Harrell, who could trigger his $9.7 million player option for next year.

However, general manager Rob Pelinka won't have much money to spend on outside acquisitions. ESPN's Bobby Marks explained the situation shortly after L.A.'s playoff exit:

"They can bring back a combination of their own free agents, including [Dennis] Schroder, [Alex] Caruso and/or Talen Horton-Tucker, but pay a substantial luxury tax bill. This would also limit them to using the $5.9 million taxpayer midlevel exception, rather than the larger $9.5 million midlevel exception. The $91 million luxury tax bill would be the largest in league history and would see the Lakers commit a quarter of a billion dollars to their roster in 2021-22.
"The Lakers could also let most of their free agents walk to cut costs, but doing so would leave them with just the $9.5 million midlevel and minimum exception to fill their roster needs."

Schroder encapsulates the dilemma.

The veteran guard struggled in the postseason, averaging 14.3 points and 2.8 assists in six games. He shot 30.8 percent from beyond the arc, and Los Angeles collectively hit 29.9 percent of its three-pointers.

While Schroder proved to be a poor fit when it mattered, Pelinka almost has to re-sign him because the alternative is likely bringing in another point guard who isn't as good.

Pelinka earned plaudits for the Lakers' offseason business in 2020. After most of his moves backfired, he's once again under the microscope as L.A. regroups.