The Los Angeles Lakers have arguably been the biggest winner of the NBA offseason thus far as the defending champions continue to reload, and they are the +300 favorites at Mybookie to repeat in the 2020-21 NBA season, which begins Dec. 22.
Lakers Continue To Reload With Marc Gasol, Markieff Morris | 2020 NBA Expert Analysis
A month after winning the NBA Finals, the Lakers have traded for point guard Dennis Schröder, who finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting with the Thunder; and signed center Montrezl Harrell, who won Sixth Man of the Year with the Clippers, veteran wing Wesley Matthews, who was an integral role player from the Bucks as well as adding Marc Gasol and re-signing Markieff Morris. All the Lakers lost in order to upgrade across the roster was Danny Green, the 28th pick in the draft (Jaden McDaniels), and Dwight Howard.
Guys want to sign with the Lakers to play alongside LeBron James and in hopes of winning a title. The Lakers traded away JaVale McGee and a second-round pick to offer Gasol more money, and he should slot into the starting center job alongside Anthony Davis, with Harrell backing him up.
Gasol was drafted by the Lakers in 2007 but had his rights traded to Memphis for his brother, Pau, before he ever played an NBA game. On the Lakers, Gasol will be looking to win his second NBA championship. He won his first with the Raptors two seasons ago after Toronto landed him from the Grizzlies in a midseason trade. The 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol remains a stalwart on that end of the floor. The Raptors allowed 98.9 points per 100 possessions when Gasol was on the court last season.
Morris, meanwhile, agreed to a minimum deal to return to the Lakers. Morris originally chose to sign with the Lakers in February after being bought out by the Detroit Pistons.
Morris appeared in 14 regular-season games (averaging 5.3 points and 3.2 rebounds) and 21 playoff games (5.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg), providing rebounding and scoring punch for the Lakers. He allowed the Lakers to maintain the same physical identity they’d cultivated all year while also letting Davis play center, a position he destroyed overmatched opponents of all sizes at in the postseason.
Although undersized for the 5, Morris was a versatile piece for Los Angeles in the playoffs and allowed head coach Frank Vogel to play either big or small depending on the matchup. The Lakers beat out the Clippers for Morris’ services. Morris could have gotten more money from the Clippers and played with twin brother Marcus Morris.
Suns Able To Keep Dario Saric
The Phoenix Suns also have had a very good offseason in trading for point guard Chris Paul and re-signing forward Dario Saric on a three-year, $27 million deal.
Saric has shown himself to be a versatile frontcourt player at the power forward and center spots, averaging 10.7 points and 6.2 rebounds and shooting 35.7% from 3-point range. Saric’s season blossomed prior to the March 11 shutdown and into the Orlando restart, where the Suns went 8-0. In four games in March, he elevated his averages to 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 31.5 minutes.
Once he transitioned to a hybrid frontcourt role off the bench in the bubble, Saric was even better, scoring in double digits in every contest and looking like a vastly more aggressive and comfortable player as the offensive fulcrum of the second unit.
The Suns also have agreed to deals with free agents Jae Crowder (three years, $30 million), Damian Jones (two-year deal), E’Twaun Moore (one year, $2.7 million) and re-signed restricted free agent Jevon Carter (three years, $11.5 million).
Phoenix also took big man Jalen Smith with the No. 10 overall pick in last week’s draft. Smith averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 boards, 0.7 steals and 2.4 blocks in his sophomore season at Maryland, and also hit 36.8 percent of his 3-pointers to average 1.0 per game.
Suns GM James Jones said Smith will get playing time alongside Deandre Ayton this season. Jones said Smith will play “minutes early” adding, “I’m looking forward to seeing [Smith and Ayton] anchoring the floor together, even if it’s for stints.” Jones views the Suns’ incoming lottery pick as a “versatile four that can stretch the floor, that can run in transition.”
The NBA’s Pacific Division is incredibly loaded with the Lakers, Suns, Clippers and Warriors.
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