ESPN ranks Lakers No. 3 in post-free agency power rankings

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ESPN ranks Lakers No. 3 in post-free agency power rankings
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The Los Angeles Lakers had one of the busiest offseasons of any team this summer after making a flurry of moves.

Los Angeles had over 10 of their own free agents to ponder keeping or letting them go; that number jumped when the Lakers shipped out three players — four counting the 2021 draft pick — to land Russell Westbrook and three second-round picks.

The Lakers barely had quarters to play with in free agency, but that reduced to pennies when Westbrook’s salary entered the books. Los Angeles needed to convince numerous veterans to sign for the minimum, and the taxpayer MLE plunged from almost $10 million to just above $5 million after the trade.

However, the Lakers managed to overcome those hurdles and filled 12 roster spots, with two more waiting to be filled. L.A. wants to keep the final spot open to preserve roster flexibility throughout the season.

The additions L.A. made for the minimum include Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore and Malik Monk. The Lakers splashed the full MLE on Kendrick Nunn and retained Talen Horton-Tucker for three more years.

With the hectic days of free agency completed, ESPN released power rankings for all 30 teams. The Lakers came in at No. 3, and here’s why, as written by Dave McMenamin, who covers the team for ESPN:

After trading for Russell Westbrook and acquiring Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony in the offseason, there have been two extreme schools of thought in evaluating next season’s Lakers: Some view them as an elite collection of talent with six potential Hall of Famers, while others point to their average age — 31.8 years old — as a team nearing its expiration date. — McMenamin

The Lakers came behind the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, who were at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

If the Lakers can prove Westbrook can fit in practice, not theory, alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the veterans L.A. signed in free agency could be enough to push Los Angeles to another title. Staying healthy, though, is the crucial component.