How Good Will The 2020 Lakers Starting Lineup Be w/ Anthony Davis?

It was a casual afternoon for many, when Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a Woj Bomb on us. Anthony Davis is now a Los Angeles Laker (Official in July), which they were trying to achieve a half a year ago. LeBron James is going to be 35 this year, and the Lakers are desperate to win now just like him. The Pelicans already own the number one overall pick in the upcoming draft, while the Lakers owned the fourth. They will now send that fourth in addition to most of their young core. There were rumors of Kyle Kuzma being a dealbreaker, but when you look at how the trade went down, sending three first round picks in addition to these players is a massive haul for New Orleans.

Last Year’s Starting Lineups

Los Angeles went 37-45 last season, and the last time James missed a playoff, George W. Bush was in office. The chemistry of the team was shaky, and the consistency of the same starting five was even worse. The longest five-man lineup only played 233 minutes together. Of course, a lot of this was due to injuries. This team was also not destined to succeed given the surrounding players with James. Traditionally we have seen teams have above average shooters around him, and that wasn’t the case. This time around they will need to build around James correctly. Above is a look at the most common lineups that the Lakers used, and as you can see there were not that many.

Lakers Salaries & Cap Space

PLAYER (6) AGE POS. SIGNED USING BASE SALARY TRADE KICKER LIKELY INCENT. CAP %
LeBron James  (Max) 34 SF Cap Space $37,436,858 - - 27.6%
Anthony Davis  (Max) 26 PF Bird $27,09,3019 - - 20.0%
Moritz Wagner 22 PF Rookie $2,063,520 - - 1.5%
Kyle Kuzma 24 PF Rookie $1,974,600 - - 1.4%
Isaac Bonga 19 PG Cap Space $1,416,852 - - 1.1%
Jermerrio Jones 24 F Minimum $1,416,852 - - 1.1%

Looking into the NBA’s salary cap system and all the rules it brings can make it tricky to breakdown a situation. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are going to carry a heavy cap hit as you would expect. Davis can save the Lakers $4 million if he waives the trade clause in his contract. This would give them more cap space. They currently just have six players signed for the new season, and will have somewhere in the $24-30 million range for cap space. They also have cap holds on these names below.

PLAYER (9) AGE POS. Signing Used CAP FIGURE
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 26 SG Early Bird $15,600,000
Rajon Rondo 33 PG Non-Bird $10,800,000
Mike Muscala 28 PF Bird $9,500,000
Lance Stephenson 28 SG Non-Bird $5,338,800
Reggie Bullock 28 SG Bird $4,750,000
Tyson Chandler 36 C Non-Bird $1,618,486
JaVale McGee 31 C Non-bird $1,618,486
Alex Caruso 25 G Restricted Early Bir $1,443,842
Johnathan Williams 24 PF Restricted Non-Bird $1,443,842
Incomplete Roster Charge (6 spots) $5,382,948

Now could any of these players stay with the Lakers? Sure, Los Angeles desperately needs shooting, and the front court is optimally set already with James, Kuzma, and Davis. They will need some depth, but overall a lot of those front court minutes are allocated to those names. Another wing and guards will be the priority signings of the summer. Reggie Bullock is a name that could stick around. He has flashed a lot of potential defensively. Bullock has shot 39% from three in his career, and 43% from the field. He would not be a bad option to return, but at what cost?

Can They Land Another Star?

Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker are the big free agent point guards, and their shooting ability would instantly help the Lakers. It would also fit what they need to do to run a successful offense around James and Davis. Irving is likely signing with the Brooklyn Nets, while Walker has talked more about staying with Charlotte. He will still meet with other teams, and Walker seems to be a likely candidate. Jimmy Butler is another unrestricted guard, but he is definitely not going to take a pay cut to go to the Lakers. Butler seems to be the least likely option to head to the Lakers, and I know there will be speculation on bringing Kawhi Leonard in as well. With Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant out for the next season, although Thompson could return earlier, the free agent market changed.

Secondary Options

There are some middling players that could wind up in Los Angeles. Khris Middleton, J.J. Redick, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jeremy Lamb, Trevor Ariza, Ricky Rubio, and Darren Collison could all be names that the Lakers look at. Malcolm Brogdon is a restricted free agent, but the Lakers would have enough to make the Bucks think twice about matching. Middleton is likely looking for more than what the Lakers want to spend on him, as they still need to think about how they can round out their roster. Redick can continuously get these high one-two year deals with teams, and would need to take a pay cut to sign with the Lakers. It gets interesting when you look at Bogdanvoic. He is someone who can play the two, but also play off the bench as well. He is also a career 46% shooter, and nearly 40% from three.

Our Projected 2019-20 Lakers Lineup

Roles PG SG SF PF C
Starters Kemba Walker Trevor Ariza LeBron James Kyle Kuzma Anthony Davis
Reserves Trey Burke James Ennis Jeff Green Carmelo Anthony Moritz Wagner

Kemba Walker going to the Lakers is the enticing move from both sides, and I like this scenario to play out the most. If it doesn’t, it completely changes how the Lakers go about their business. Walker gives them the need at point guard, but it also will cap what they can sign after him. As you can see, the rest of the roster isn’t going to be as highly valued given the money they have to work with. If Walker doesn’t sign, and the Lakers go with Jimmy Butler, it will create a cheap need for a point guard.

The Lakers were high on signing Trevor Ariza and also trading for him. They now have the chance to sign Ariza, which would add another veteran presence who can spread the floor a bit. With the rest of the starting lineup already figured out, this leaves us to look at their bench. It is going to be talked about, but Carmelo Anthony could be signed by his good friend James. Anthony doesn’t need the salary, and could take a small deal to give the Lakers some depth.

There are a few backup point guard options for the Lakers to look at. Raymond Felton is one name, but Trey Burke would be a potential move for the Lakers to make. He flashed some scoring potential over the last season or two, and would give the Lakers some scoring off the bench. James Ennis is a strong defender, and is the perfect role player for the Lakers. Jeff Green would likely take a similar deal and have a similar role from the past few seasons. Moritz Wagner is a second year player out of Michigan, and will take on a larger role on his rookie deal. Davis should play around 36-37 minutes per game, so Wagner would soak up whatever is rest.

  
Jason Guilbault has been writing and podcasting in the fantasy sports world for over five years. You can find his work at Daily Fantasy Cafe. He is an avid Tottenham fan, and follows the Boston sports teams. When he isn’t diving into stats, he is enjoying the outdoors or down at the local brewery.

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