Lakers News: Latest on Marc Gasol's Future, NBA Summer League Debuts, More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2021

Lakers News: Latest on Marc Gasol's Future, NBA Summer League Debuts, More

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    It's been a wild start to 2021 NBA free agency for the Los Angeles Lakers. Los Angeles moved swiftly to add a third superstar to the roster, agreeing to a trade with the Washington Wizards to acquire Russell Westbrook before free agency even began.

    Once the market opened, the Lakers moved just as quickly to build a supporting cast around Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.  The negotiation window only opened on Monday evening, and the Lakers have already agreed to deals with Talen-Horton Tucker, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington.

    Gone are 2021 contributors Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell, who were included as part of the Westbrook trade. Point guard Alex Caruso is also gone, after he agreed to a four-year, $37 million deal with the Chicago Bulls.

    What else is going on in Laker Land two days into free agency? Let's take a look.

Marc Gasol Planning to Return for Another Lakers Run

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Though players like Kuzma and Caruso are out, several familiar faces will be back for 2021-22. Veteran center Marc Gasol will be among them.

    According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Gasol confirmed that he'll be back following Spain's loss to Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics. While Gasol will be back for at least one more NBA season, he also announced that his time with the Spanish national team has come to an end.

    "I think it's time for somebody else to enjoy the ride," he told reporters Tuesday. "I think it's time for me to get off the ride and for some young guys to step on and enjoy it."

    While Gasol is no longer the All-Star talent he was early in his career, he can play a valuable depth role for the Lakers. He appeared in 52 games with Los Angeles last season and averaged 19.1 minutes, 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Austin Reaves, Joel Ayayi Shine in Summer-League Debut

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Lakers traded away the 22nd overall pick in the draft as part of the Westbrook deal. However, Los Angeles did add a pair of intriguing prospects in post-draft rookie free agency.

    The Lakers signed shooting guards Austin Reeves of Oklahoma and Ayayi Shine out of Gonzaga following the draft's conclusion. Both players made their Summer League debuts on Tuesday.

    While the Lakers lost to the Miami Heat, Reaves and Ayayi both shined.

    "First NBA game, they showed up," Lakers Summer League coach Quinton Crawford said, per Mike Trudell of "You gotta respect their energy, their competitiveness. They’re two of the most competitive guys on this roster."

    Reaves contributed 11 points, six rebounds, two assists and three blocks during the 80-78 loss. Ayayi added eight points, three rebounds and a steal.

    Both Reaves and Ayayi have signed two-way contracts with the Lakers and G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers.

Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis Talks Westbrook Trade

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The addition of Westbrook has been the headline-grabbing move of Los Angeles' offseason thus far. While the Lakers are glad to be adding the nine-time All-Star, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis isn't too upset about losing a player who didn't want to be there.

    Leonsis, who also owns the Washington Capitals, recently discussed the contracting situations of Westbrook and longtime Capital Alexander Ovechkin—who just inked a five-year, $47.5 million extension to stay in Washington.

    Leonsis said the following, per ESPN's Emily Kaplan:

    "I couldn't help but self-reflect on what a difference it is. Here's a great player in Russell Westbrook, played in OKC, wanted to be traded, went to Houston, wanted to be traded, came to D.C., wanted to be traded and is now in L.A. He's an unbelievably great person and an unbelievably great player. But that's the difference between the NBA and the NHL, I suppose."

    It has become commonplace in the NBA for players to chase championship-caliber teams, either in free agency or by forcing trades. That appears to be what the 32-year-old Westbrook appears to be doing now. While Ovechkin may be content to stay in Washington, Westbrook apparently feels like doing so would give him an opportunity to win a title. Playing with James, Davis and the Lakers just might.