The Lakers entered this offseason with few expecting a major roster overhaul, but as free agency has unfolded they’ve been among the league’s most active teams. They’ve brought back the likes of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but have also traded for Dennis Schröder and signed Montrezl Harrell and Wesley Matthews in free agency — with Dwight Howard and Danny Green leaving and both ending up in Philadelphia.
With Howard gone, the Lakers have been looking to bring in another true center for when they don’t want to go small with Anthony Davis (who will re-sign at some point in the near future) and Harrell, and Marc Gasol has been at the top of their list of targets. Creating enough room for Gasol required a trade of JaVale McGee, and on Sunday evening they found a partner in the Cavaliers to ship McGee and a second round pick to Cleveland, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, with two non-guaranteed players in Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie going back to L.A.
Cleveland is trading Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie to the Lakers in the Gasol deal, sources tell ESPN.Advertisement
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 23, 2020
Shortly after that deal was announced, Woj and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Gasol had agreed to a deal with the Lakers.
The Lakers clearly felt that the team that won the championship last year needed some significant upgrades this season and have certainly shaken up the roster in a way not everyone thought they would or could. Gasol was not at his best in the playoffs last year for Toronto, but brings some playmaking to their frontcourt as an excellent passer, and can give them some solid team defense in bursts. Matthews looks to fill the Danny Green role of 3-and-D vet, while Schröder is a bit of a lottery ticket in that they hope his shooting from last year in OKC wasn’t a mirage and he can be an upgrade in the backcourt as a two-way point guard who is capable of playing off-ball.
In a Western Conference that’s seen some of the middling teams get better but the top contenders all tread water or take a step back, the Lakers have, on paper, seemingly put some distance between themselves and the pack in the West if all goes well.