The Los Angeles Lakers have made a bunch of moves this month, replenishing a roster that had only five names under contract for the 2021-22 campaign when the offseason began. And it's clear what type of players the team has been targeting: experienced veterans.
By trading for point guard Russell Westbrook, the Lakers added a third star to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. And the 32-year-old is actually younger than some of Los Angeles' other notable acquisitions.
Some of the players who the Lakers have signed since the start of free agency include: Carmelo Anthony (37 years old), Trevor Ariza (36), Kent Bazemore (32), Wayne Ellington (33) and Dwight Howard (35). So there won't be a lack of veteran leadership for younger members of the team to lean on.
And the Lakers may not be done just yet, either.
According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, they are still considering numerous free agents, including point guard Isaiah Thomas. He played only three games during the 2020-21 season after signing a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The 32-year-old is a 10-year NBA veteran who has played for eight teams in his career. That included a brief stint with the Lakers in the 2017-18 season, when he averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 assists in 17 games.
While Westbrook will clearly be Los Angeles' starter at point guard, the team could benefit from adding another experienced player to come off the bench and fill in at the position. However, Stein noted that it's not a done deal with Thomas at this point.
"The addition of Thomas is far from assured, sources stressed, but the Lakers are looking for additional backcourt punch as well as wing depth as they decide how to supplement the 12 veteran players they have under contract," he wrote.
After winning the NBA title in the bubble at the end of the unorthodox 2019-20 season, the Lakers couldn't repeat during the 2020-21 campaign. They went 42-30 in the regular season and beat the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament to earn the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. However, they lost in six games to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
Are the Lakers a better team now than they were at the end of this past season? They'll hope that these moves can help them win a second championship in three years. However, other teams around the league may not think Los Angeles' current composition is scarier than last year's roster, per ESPN's Zach Lowe.
"I don't sense rivals regard them as any more or less fearsome than last season's iteration—a shoulder-shrugging that strikes me as the correct reaction," Lowe wrote.
Perhaps the Lakers will end up proving them wrong, considering the trio of James, Davis and Westbrook could be difficult to stop. Plus, there are also some talented youngsters on their roster, such as Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn.
Plus, there's still plenty of time for Los Angeles to modify its roster before the 2021-22 season begins, so more moves could be on the way.