This NBA offseason the free agency was easily one of the most controversial and shocking ones in the past few years. With so many big-name all-stars getting traded and some unexpected signings with new teams, the 2020-21 NBA season will be a treat to watch.
But in this whole free agent frenzy, the teams in Los Angeles seem to have made the biggest splash this offseason. Starting with the Los Angeles Lakers, with still if not the best but still one of the best players in the league right now, any player would love to play alongside LeBron James. The Lakers front office did try to pursue Anthony Davis this past season but were unable to meet the Pelicans outrageous demands. However this offseason the Pelicans front office realized that it is better to trade away Anthony Davis and get something in return instead of him leaving in free agency whenever his contract ends and that led to a trade with the Lakers which sent Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart with a couple of future drafts picks to the Pelicans in exchange for Anthony Davis.
The 6-time all-star Davis has been in the all NBA first team 3 times and has been on the all NBA defensive first and second-team twice. However, these accolades do not do justice to “The Brow”. At 6’10, Davis is an absolute task to handle for other frontcourt players. An extremely quick first step and exquisite ball handling for a bigman to have along with the bag of skills he brings to the court, Davis is a proven leader. But how is this going to turn out for the Lakers?
After trading away most of their starting line-up and a lot of draft picks, the Lakers were now in a bind to not just fill up their roster but attract another star talent. Adding Davis makes the Lakers frontcourt really strong as Davis plays well in the post, can spread the floor really well and is more than a catch and shoot big as we have seen him be able to create shots for himself. Pair him with someone who will definitely go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game, a LeBron and Davis frontcourt duo should put a scare in the rest of the teams around the league.
However, after trading away Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, the Lakers backcourt got really slim. They went onto bringing back Rajon Rondo, a skilled veteran to another one-year deal but after acquiring Davis, the Lakers were now in a win-now mode. LeBron was acquired as a two-year stint to make the Los Angeles Lakers a title contender but nagging injuries made them miss their 6th consecutive playoff appearance. Now add Anthony Davis to the roster and you’re on the verge of making a GOOD title-contending team that could make a splash in the hardened western conference. Along with that the Lakers front office went onto sign Demarcus Cousins to a one year deal as well temporarily solving adding another star to the team. This turned out to be a re-union for Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis as well as Rajon Rondo after all of them played together for the New Orleans Pelicans. Cousins seemed like a disappointment these playoffs, especially in the finals but that could’ve been because he was coming off an injury. If Cousins can bring up his production on the court like before, the Lakers would easily become a powerhouse in the western conference, something they haven’t experienced since the Kobe era.
Apart from that, the Lakers re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Javale McGee and signed Quinn Cook, Danny Green, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley, and Avery Bradley as well. They even went onto claim an Antetokounmpo brother from Dallas in the hopes of him following his brother’s footsteps on the court. So it seems as if the Lakers are ready for almost anything the teams throw at them now. But there might be a slight problem as Rondo may or may not be the best fit to start at the point. Don’t get me wrong, according to me Rondo seems like a good fit as a playmaker but LeBron has this problem of needing a good point-guard not just to facilitate the ball but to create shots for himself as well.
Side-Note: After the Departure of Kyrie Irving back in the Cleveland days, the team had suffered tremendously and James went as far as to demand the Cleveland front office to ‘get him a playmaker.’ Cleveland went onto acquire Isaiah Thomas from the Boston Celtics while trading away Kyrie Irving but that turned out to be a huge disaster for the Cavs. James had a skilled all-star big in Kevin Love and a good role player in Tristan Thompson but was unable to get another title for the Cavs.
Now, these are the two best possibilities for the Lakers starting line-up -:
Point Guard – LeBron James
Shooting Guard – Danny Green
Small Forward – Kyle Kuzma
Power Forward – Anthony Davis
Center – Demarcus Cousins
Point Guard – Rajon Rondo
Shooting Guard – LeBron James/Kyle Kuzma
Small Forward – Kyle Kuzma/LeBron James
Power Forward – Anthony Davis
Center – Demarcus Cousins
Many would feel that Kyle Kuzma should come off the bench but according to me, he has the potential to be a star and an all-star very soon.
Coming onto the Los Angeles Clippers, the biggest move this offseason was Kawhi Leonard, the man who led the Toronto Raptors to their first title in NBA history defying all odds, choosing to come back home. Many speculated he would go to the Lakers to play alongside LeBron but “The Klaw” had different plans as he did not want to be the second option behind James. Kawhi Leonard chose to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers shocking everyone all around. Kawhi, as great as he is right now is the product of the impeccable Spurs scouting and the genius of Gregg Popovich. If any coach can maximize a player’s full potential, hands-down it’s Pop.
A two-time NBA champion, 2 NBA finals MVP, 2 consecutive NBA defensive player of the year and many more accolades to his name, Leonard showed his dominance this past season and moreover in the playoffs, coming up clutch whenever his team was in a tight spot and bringing a title in his one year stint with the Raptors.
Apart from Leonard signing with the Clippers, the Clippers front office went onto bringing in another Los Angeles native Paul George in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The trade sent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and 3 first-round picks along with two first-round drafts pick swaps in exchange for Paul George. One of the most prolific dunkers in the NBA right now, George is obviously more than a dunking machine. A scoring machine, on the other hand, would be an appropriate term to use when referring to “PG13”. Coming off second in the league in scoring and also an MVP nominee, George can do it all. A relentless scorer with a quick first step and even quicker bounce, there aren’t a lot of things George fails to deliver. Pairing Paul George with Kawhi Leonard together, you got both sides of the court covered with absolute ease. Leonard, a defensive anchor and constant threat and George, a tireless scorer along with “Sweet Lou” (Louis Williams) and Montrezl Harrell.
It was “Sweet Lou” and Montrezl Harrell that were wreaking havoc to the No.1 seed, the Warriors and taking them to 7 games, upsetting them a couple of times in the first-round series as well but falling short to the Warriors star power. Now add Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers and you could see the series going in another direction altogether. Adding 2 perennial all-stars to any team would change the whole outlook of the organization and the Clippers were successful in doing so. Now with the addition of Leonard and George, here is what the Clippers lineup should look like -:
Point Guard – Patrick Beverly
Shooting Guard – Kawhi Leonard/Louis Williams
Small Forward – Paul George/Kawhi Leonard
Power Forward – Jamychal Green/Paul George
Center – Montrezl Harrell
Point Guard – Lou Williams/Patrick Beverly
Shooting Guard – Kawhi Leonard
Small Forward – Paul George
Power Forward – Montrezl Harrell/Jamychal Green
Center – Ivica Zubac/Montrezl Harrell
With Paul George listen at 6’10, it wouldn’t hurt to play him at PF, since teams are now playing more small-ball instead of relying on 2 bigs in the paint.
Apart from all that, both the Los Angeles teams will see each other on Christmas as the Christmas special showcase. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a battle in Los Angeles for the throne of Los Angeles. Can’t wait to see who comes out on top.
Important – With numerous injuries and the altercations off the court with his ex-girlfriend, there might be a huge chance that we may not see Demarcus Cousins suit up in a Lakers jersey this season and the Lakers front office realized that as well. And that led to the Lakers front office signing free agent Dwight Howard. Howard has been an 8-time all-star, 8 time All-NBA team, 5-time All-Defensive team and 3 time Defensive player of the year. He is a double double machine any given night and will provide great protection in the paint. And for those of you who aren’t aware, this is going to be a reunion between Howard and the Lakers as the last time Howard was really disgruntled and left the Lakers to join the Houston Rockets. He played alongside Kobe then and will have an opportunity to play along LeBron and Davis now, so it is safe to say that things will be different. Let’s see what the Lakers come up with to stay tough in a hardened western conference.