Lakers Predicted to Start $13 Million Guard & $2 Million Center Next to LeBron James

Lakers star LeBron James during the 2021-22 season

Getty Lakers star LeBron James during the 2021-22 season

The Los Angeles Lakers have been predicted to start a $13 million guard and $2 million center next to superstar LeBron James in 2022-23.

In a September 22nd piece called “Predicting Every NBA Team’s Starting Lineup and Top Reserve This Season,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz predicted that the Lakers would start Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, James, Anthony Davis and Thomas Bryant this upcoming season.

“The addition of Beverley was a terrific fit for this Lakers team in need of shooting, defense and toughness,” Swartz wrote. “Head coach Darvin Ham acknowledged that both Beverley and Westbrook could start alongside each other in the backcourt ‘if they play defense’ with Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves competing for a spot as well. Playing small with Davis at center will probably be this team’s go-to look in the fourth quarter of games, but starting Bryant at center gives the Lakers another shooter and allows Davis to guard power forwards.”

The Lakers acquired Beverley from the Utah Jazz for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson. The Chicago native, who will make $13 million in 2022-23, averaged 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists last season for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Bryant, who began his career with the Lakers, appeared in 27 games with the Washington Wizards last season. The big man averaged 7.4 points and 4.0 rebounds. Bryant signed a one-year, $2.1 million deal with the Lakers.

Darvin Ham Thinks Westbrook & Beverley Can Play Together

New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham told reporters on September 6th that he believed Westbrook and Beverley could play together despite having a contentious history. In 2013, Westbrook was dribbling the ball toward the Oklahoma City Thunder bench to call a timeout when Beverley went for a steal and took out the nine-time All-Star’s knee, which led to a meniscus tear and multiple knee surgeries.

“I see them working together fabulously, man,” Ham said. “Their games complement one another. I wouldn’t want to be in a backcourt and deal with these two guys. …If they play defense. We’ve got a while. That’s still a ways off, but definitely. … It’s definitely a bullet in the chamber. We’re looking forward to it, man. Those guys in the backcourt together, man.”

Beverley, who has never missed the playoffs, said on September 6th that he was “super excited” to play with Westbrook, who was at Beverley’s introductory press conference with the Lakers. The one-time MVP interrupted Beverley’s news conference with reporters to toss him a towel after he saw his new teammate sweating.

“Super excited,” Beverley said about playing with Westbrook. “I was asked this question two, three years ago, [about] someone I always wanted to play with and [Westbrook] was the first name. I have [known] Bron since I was a baby, a rookie in this league, so obviously I want to play with him. But a player with that competitive spirit, that fire, that will, that dog, that nastiness, that grit, to have a running mate like that, I have never had that. So I am super excited to see where it goes.”

No, Westbrook Won’t Come Off the Bench

After the Lakers acquired Beverley and signed Dennis Schroder, rumors started to swirl about Westbrook possibly coming off the bench for the Lakers, who missed the playoffs last season. However, on September 19th’s episode of “NBA Today,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said the Lakers still view Westbrook as a starter.

“From what I understand now, they still see Russell Westbrook as a starter,” Shelburne said. “He’s a former MVP. He’s given that respect. Everyone’s gonna compete for jobs. … Russell Westbrook is the starter there.”

Westbrook hasn’t come off the bench in an NBA game since November 28th, 2008, a month into his rookie season with the Thunder. When Ham was asked about the possibility of Westbrook coming off the bench during his introductory press conference in June, Westbrook — who was at the press conference — laughed at the notion.

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