At this point, Buha favors incumbent Lakers D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura – all of whom signed lucrative new contracts this offseason – to fill out the starting lineup. He predicts the 10-man rotation will be filled out by Jarred Vanderbilt, Max Christie, and newcomers Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, and Jaxson Hayes.
As Buha notes, the Lakers will want to avoid overworking James and Davis to ensure that they’re healthy for the playoffs, so players outside his projected 10-man rotation, including free agent addition Cam Reddish and rookies Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis, could get a chance to earn some minutes too.
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- Although Buha has Russell penciled in as the starting point guard, he acknowledges that could change, observing that Vincent’s 3-and-D skill set is a better fit next to the Lakers’ stars. It’s a “coin flip” as to who will end up as the go-to point guard, Buha writes, suggesting that both players will have important roles.
- Christie is the most difficult Laker to project for the 2023/24 season, says Buha. If he breaks out like he believes he can, he should have no problem securing a spot as the eighth or ninth man in the rotation. If not, he may end up battling Reddish for minutes as the 10th man.
- According to Buha, the Lakers hope that Hayes will be able to start alongside Davis in scenarios when the team opts to roll with a two-big lineup. However, Buha doesn’t foresee a major regular role for Hayes, noting that there are only so many frontcourt minutes to go around as long as James, Davis, Hachimura, and Vanderbilt are healthy. If the Lakers were to sign another free agent center such as Christian Wood or Bismack Biyombo, Hayes’ spot in the regular rotation would be even less certain, though injuries and/or load management could ultimately open the door for him to play frequently.
- In the latest Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube link), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Tim Bontemps, and Tim MacMahon discuss the fact that Davis will become extension-eligible later this week and consider the odds of he and the Lakers working out a deal before the season begins. Windhorst doesn’t necessarily expect the two sides to reach a deal immediately, but believes there’s mutual interest in working something out. “There’s no time crunch. He doesn’t have to make a decision by August 5 or anything,” Windhorst said. “But I do think there is an expectation that the Lakers do make some sort of offer this week, or at least show their intention to make such an offer.”