Lakers' Biggest Winners and Losers from 2021 NBA Free Agency

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 19, 2021

Lakers' Biggest Winners and Losers from 2021 NBA Free Agency

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    Most renovated homes don't change as dramatically as the Los Angeles Lakers did during the 2021 NBA offseason.

    Eager to flush the disappointment of last season's first-round exit, the franchise nearly flipped over the entire roster around cornerstones LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

    The biggest alteration came via the trade market, in which the Lakers brokered a blockbuster deal for Russell Westbrook. But they kept plenty busy in free agency too, leaving a couple of winners and one obvious loser in their wake.

Winner: Carmelo Anthony

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    With more than 27,000 career points behind him and certain Hall of Fame enshrinement in front, there's little left for Carmelo Anthony to accomplish.

    But winning a ring is the one thing he's never done. He's never been in a better position to contend, and he will be chasing that jewelry alongside 2003 draft classmate and longtime friend LeBron James.

    "For years, we've always laughed about [the idea of playing together] and spoke about it—what it would be like," Anthony told reporters. "... I thought and he thought at this moment now, everything comes back full circle for us. And I think the time is now for us to be on the same team. It couldn't have come at a better time."

    Basketball-wise, it's an almost perfect fit for Anthony. His spot-up stroke will be critical when running with James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, and Anthony's ability to create scoring chances should get him a decent amount of time on the ball when working with the bench mob.

Loser: Dennis Schroder

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    The fact Dennis Schroder is now an ex-Laker isn't the main reason he looms as the biggest loser in free agency.

    Sure, staying in L.A. would have simplified his trip to the open market. This isn't about his setting, though, it's all about the salary.

    As recently as March, there were talks of Schroder collecting north of a $20 million annual salary. He could have even gotten that from the Lakers on a multiyear deal.

    But he bet on himself, and the wager went bust. The Lakers grabbed Westbrook, the point guard market dried up around him and Schroder was left clinging to a one-year, $5.9 million contract with the Boston Celtics. As unpredictable as free agency can be, this turn of events was stunning.

Winner: Talen Horton-Tucker

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    A second-round curiosity no more, Talen Horton-Tucker is now a $32 million man with a chance to force his way up the perimeter pecking order.

    Not bad for the 46th pick of the 2019 draft, right?

    After barely breaking a big league sweat as a rookie, Horton-Tucker pushed his way into a rotation role as a sophomore this past season. Now, he might have the inside track on being L.A.'s featured sub.

    The Lakers have some major question marks on defense following the departures of Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma. Horton-Tucker has the tools and tenacity to answer them. Tack on some of the best shot-creation skills among a reserve unit largely comprising specialists, and he might find his way to nearly 30 minutes per night as soon as this season.