Los Angeles also had over 10 free agents entering the market in the summer, and retaining everyone wasn’t a plausible outcome given the conclusion to the season.
The Lakers were also in a tough financial position after absorbing Westbrook’s $40 million salary. Signing players in free agency wouldn’t be easy since L.A. basically had only the $5.9 taxpayer MLE to play with; L.A. allocated the entire MLE to Kendrick Nunn.
With all the incoming veterans L.A. inked to minimum deals, they also let many notable free agents, like Alex Caruso, walk to a new franchise.
Let’s look at when the Lakers will have reunions with former players in the new season:
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After signing with the Lakers for the minimum after the Houston Rockets bought out his contract, Ben McLemore played 21 regular-season games with the Lakers. His playoff presence was minimal given his defensive limitations. Though he can catch fire with one swish, the Lakers didn't look to retain McLemore. Instead, the Portland Trail Blazers snagged the streaky shooter on a two-year minimum deal to give Damian Lillard an off-ball shooting threat. The Lakers first face the Trail Blazers on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. PST on NBA TV.
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Markieff Morris had a great run with the Lakers in the 2019-20 championship season, but his minutes fluctuated last season with the revolving injuries L.A. dealt with. Morris would start a few games, then head back to the bench and so on. His shooting percentages also declined, primarily from deep. He shot just 31.1% from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game. Morris, on paper, is a stretch four and a small-ball floor-spacing center, but that just wasn't reality. The Miami Heat signed Morris to a one-year deal worth a little above the minimum. The two teams will first face off on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 7:00 p.m. PST on ESPN.
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls: Nov. 15
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Caruso left the Lakers after four seasons to the Chicago Bulls on a four-year deal, which will be his biggest payday so far. Caruso will make his return to L.A. on Monday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. PST on NBA TV.
Dennis Schroder, Boston Celtics: Nov. 19
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Dennis Schroder's free agency was a rollercoaster ride; he eventually signed a one-year deal worth $5.9 million with the Boston Celtics. The Lakers play Boston for the first time on Friday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. PST on ESPN.
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Jared Dudley is the only non-player on this list as he recently joined the Dallas Mavericks as an assistant coach. The Lakers play Dallas for the first time on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m. PST on ESPN.
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Andre Drummond came to the Lakers after a contract buyout last season and immediately became the starting center. Though the fit had concerns, it was possible he could've returned for a longer sample size. But since Westbrook's arrival clogs up the floor with another non-shooter, Drummond's spot in L.A. unraveled. He signed with the Philadelphia 76ers on a one-year minimum deal. The two teams will battle for the first time on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. PST on TNT.
Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Washington Wizards: March 11
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The last reunion includes a batch of former Lakers. Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell were all outgoings in the deal to land Westbrook. The Lakers and Wizards meet for the first time on Friday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m PST on NBA TV.