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Lakers

Lakers’ roster will look a lot different next season

D’Angelo Russell

Point guard D’Angelo Russell will return next season surrounded by a vastly different group of Lakers teammates.

(Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency)

Now that Kobe Bryant has retired, what will the Lakers’ roster look like without him?

The quick answer: Get ready for a lot of new faces.

Of the Lakers’ 15 players, only six are under contract beyond this season. Most of them are very young: D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Anthony Brown and veterans Nick Young and Lou Williams.

Thanks primarily to the expiring contracts of Bryant ($25 million) and Roy Hibbert ($15.6 million), the Lakers project to have about $55 million to spend on free agents. That number will increase if veteran Brandon Bass declines a $3.1-million player option, as expected.

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Young still has two more years and $11.1 million on his contract but probably will either be traded or waived before next season, according to a person familiar with the situation. Young, 30, experienced another poor season on the court and was part of the secret-video saga with Russell two weeks ago.

Hibbert is not expected to return, along with Metta World Peace, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre.

Jordan Clarkson, on the other hand, becomes a restricted free agent after making $845,000 this season. He will get a pay raise, possibly up to four years and $58.8 million if he signs an offer sheet with another team. The Lakers like his ability and can match if he signs it.

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On a smaller scale, the Lakers have decisions to make about reserves Marcelo Huertas and Tarik Black, each of whom earned about $1 million this season.

Williams has two more years and $14 million on his contract. He was a decent source of scoring, if a little erratic at times.

“When you have the type of season that we have, obviously changes are going to be made,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. “This roster will probably be totally different going into next year.”

The Lakers will have the free-agent money to spend, but who will take it?

Big men of note include Atlanta’s Al Horford and Miami’s Hassan Whiteside. Charlotte small forward Nicolas Batum and Toronto shooting guard DeMar DeRozan also will be coveted by many teams.

The Lakers aren’t the only ones with money to spend. Many teams get a boost in purchasing power with the salary cap jumping from to $70 million $90 million next season because of the NBA’s new nine-year, $24-billion TV deal.

The Lakers have struck out on the last seven big-name free agents they’ve tried to sign, including two of their own: Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe and DeAndre Jordan.

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In addition to free agency, the Lakers have a 55.8% chance at keeping their top three-protected draft pick at the May 17 lottery. They also have their second-round pick, 32nd overall.

Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan


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