The Lakers built an interesting roster this past offseason. Los Angeles acquired Russell Westbrook from the Wizards. The Westbrook trade signaled a complete reformulation of a Los Angeles roster centered around Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Former head coach Jeff Van Gundy is not sold that what the Lakers have now can bring home a championship.
Jeff Van Gundy gave his thoughts on the Lakers on an episode of Zach Lowe’s podcast - “The Lowe Post”. Van Gundy believes the Lakers as currently constructed will struggle to get out of the first round.
“I think the depth that they rid themselves of, has really hurt them. I just don't think they're in the top three in the west. I've had a hard time seeing them being able to win a playoff series, let alone four.”
Van Gundy stated that the Lakers need to significantly improve their roster to contend for a title this year.
" They would have have to make major upgrades. [Kendrick] Nunn would have to be a huge upgrade. Which I think he can be actually. I think they have too many guys in roles that are too big for where they are in their careers.
To Van Gundy’s point, Lakers veterans Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore, and DeAndre Jordan have not been big bench contributors. Youngsters Talen Horton-Tucker and dAustin Reaves have shown flashes, but can’t be counted on night after night quite yet.
The Lakers jettisoned three quality role players (Kyle Kuzma, Montrez Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) in the Westbrook transaction. Additionally, LA failed to re-sign defensive standout Alex Caruso.
The massive contracts of Russ, Lebron, and AD forced the Lakers to go bargain bin shopping. The players they picked out have not panned out yet.
All of those factors lead Van Gundy to believe even getting out of the first round of the playoffs will be a challenge for the Lakers.