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Lakers' Updated Starting Lineup, Salary Cap After Howard, Ellington, Ariza Contracts

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 3, 2021

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly agreed to one-year deals with Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington and Trevor Ariza, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Later in the evening, Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported that Kent Bazemore would join the mix.

They join a Lakers team bound to have a far different look this season, especially after L.A. reportedly dealt Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.

Fan favorite Alex Caruso is also out of town, as he's reportedly a member of the Chicago Bulls, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

As of now, the Lakers only have eight players on their active roster due to the Westbrook trade, in addition to their bevy of free agents. They're bound to make more acquisition, and we'll soon find out just how much Ellington, Ariza and Howard will be making. Those figures have not been reported as of now.

For now, here's a look at the Lakers' projected starting lineup as it stands now alongside known 2021-22 salary cap figures.

    

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Starting Lineup

PG: Russell Westbrook

SG: Wayne Ellington

SF: LeBron James

PF: Anthony Davis

C: Marc Gasol

        

Lakers 2021-22 Salary Cap Figures

Russell Westbrook, PG: $44.2M

LeBron James, SF: $41.2M

Anthony Davis, PF: $35.4M

Marc Gasol, C: $2.7M

Alonzo McKinnie, SF: $1.9M

Trevor Ariza, F: 1-year deal (salary not reported)

Wayne Ellington, SG: 1-year deal (salary not reported)

Dwight Howard, C: 1-year deal (salary not reported)

Kent Bazemore, G/F: 1-year deal (salary not reported)

Total 2021-22 Salary Cap (minus reported one-year deals): $125.4 million

Source: Spotrac

     

The Lakers are looking to improve upon a 42-30 season that saw them finish seventh in the Western Conference. They fell to the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.

Injuries to James and Davis prevented the Lakers from reaching greater heights after winning the NBA title in 2019-20.

Adding Westbrook to the mix helps the Lakers recoup some lost production in the event James and Davis are forced to the sidelines in 2021-22.

Westbrook, James and Davis leave little room for much salary-cap flexibility given their 2021-22 cap figures ($120.8 million combined).

L.A. clearly went into this offseason with a plan to build around its new big three with veterans on one-year deals.

It may be tough for the Lakers to endure the long and grueling 82-game regular season as the older team looks to make it to the playoffs. Rest should be on the docket early and often.

However, if the team is somewhat refreshed and healthy going into the postseason, then this is a dangerous group.

James, Davis and Westbrook are three of the most productive players in the NBA when healthy.

Ellington, who played for the Detroit Pistons last year, gives the team a much-needed sharpshooter (42.2 percent from three-point range). The same goes for Bazemore, who can step in at shooting guard and small forward.

He shot 40.8 percent from three-point range last year en route to 7.2 points in 19.9 minutes per game for the Golden State Warriors.

Howard has been very productive in limited time over the past two seasons (7.2 points, 7.9 rebounds).

He'd likely spell Gasol in this current lineup, much like when he stepped in for JaVale McGee during the 2019-20 regular season.

Ariza gives the team some much-needed versatility given his ability to play small forward or power forward. He's coming off 9.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 30 games for the Heat in 2020-21.

L.A. still has a lot of work to do before it can call itself a finished product before the 2021-22 season begins, but there's hope the team can better resemble its 2019-20 form than last year's iteration.

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