Los Angeles Lakers

After Quiet Draft Night Lakers Make Big Roster Decisions

The Los Angeles Lakers made a pick, but the NBA champions still essentially sat out draft night.

2020 NBA Draft
Nathaniel S. Butler via Getty Images

Although the Los Angeles Lakers made a pick, the NBA champions still essentially sat out draft night until it was over.

And then they started making moves in a quick, busy offseason.

The Lakers selected Jaden McDaniels with the 28th overall pick, but the University of Washington product is slated to end up in Minnesota after a pair of trades.

The first deal brought speedy German guard Dennis Schröder to the Lakers from Oklahoma City in exchange for McDaniels' draft rights and swingman Danny Green.

Schröder, who averaged 18.9 points per game with a career-high 38.9% shooting on 3-pointers for the Thunder last season, seems an ideal fit with the Lakers to provide complementary scoring and steady ball-handling that can take pressure off LeBron James.

"We're really excited about adding Dennis to our core," said Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka. "One of the core identities of our team is that we play really tough, gritty, defensive basketball. That's really at the core of how Dennis plays. Dennis is a player that other teams hate to play against, but his teammates love to play with. Offensively, he gives us another elite playmaker...he really just fits us perfectly."

The Lakers agreed to the trade earlier this week, but couldn't announce it until immediately after the draft ended because NBA teams aren't allowed to trade their first-round picks in consecutive seasons, which meant the Lakers had to make the pick for the Thunder. Los Angeles already sent last year's first-round pick to New Orleans in its trade for Anthony Davis.

With Schröder secured and many decisions still to make, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka declined to buy a pick in the second round, even though the team's scouting department has a strong history of finding solid talent outside the top of the draft.

In the previous five drafts alone, Los Angeles selected or acquired seven current NBA players chosen outside the top 20: Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga, Svi Mykhailiuk and Talen Horton-Tucker. They subsequently moved all of those talents except Horton-Tucker, who earned a ring last month, as assets to build a championship roster.

The Lakers had already traded their own second-round pick, the 58th overall, to Orlando for Horton-Tucker's draft rights last summer.

Los Angeles must assemble most of its roster in the next two weeks before training camp begins in its title defense season, and Pelinka apparently decided against adding any guaranteed money to the payroll.

The futures of Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, Markieff Morri,s and Jared Dudley are all up in the air. Caldwell-Pope, Rondo, and Bradley can decline player options in their contracts in favor of unrestricted free agency, while the 34-year-old Howard is a free agent likely to get interest around the league after his impressive bounce-back season.

"Once we get the full picture of what guys opt in and what guys opt out, we'll have some clarity," said Pelinka. "Our approach will be to be aggressive [in free agency]. There will be a handful of teams in a position to contend. We have to stay aggressive. The danger of winning is complacency, and we won't allow that to creep in here."

On Thursday, the Lakers announced their first big roster decision when the team opted to waive guard Quinn Cook.

Shortly thereafter, Shams Charania of The Athletic announced that restricted free agent JaVale McGee exercised his $4.2 Million player option and will return to the Lakers for the 2020-21 season.

Davis also is technically in flux after declining the $28.7 million option year on his previous contract, but he is all but guaranteed to re-sign with the Lakers on a huge deal. In an interview with Yahoo Sports earlier this week, Davis gave no clues to his plans, but still praised the Lakers' acquisition of Schröder as “a great deal."

At least Lakers fans know James is signed for next season along with Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Horton-Tucker and McGee.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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