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Los Angeles Lakers roster 2013: Three aging stars and a cast of bargain shooters

While the Los Angeles Lakers have expensive stars, the roster constructed around Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash fits Mike D'Antoni's offensive principles and the team's financially-constrained salary situation.


For the first time, Mike D'Antoni can really call the Los Angeles Lakers his team. His coaching staff is overhauled and his philosophies are in place. Kobe Bryant's Achilles recovery and the injury-prone nature of sidekicks Steve Nash and Pau Gasol will surely dictate how things go, yet the dust has seemingly settled in Los Angeles.

There's nothing more to worry about aside from chasing results.

Los Angeles moves on from a brief Dwight Howard experiment with offseason signings that were both cheap and fitting for D'Antoni's offense. There are a lot of shooters from every position on the floor, but there are also many questions about how the new pieces come together. How the Lakers play defense with this roster is a whole other can of worms to open.

Projected starters

Kobe Bryant -- There's no telling when Bryant will return from a torn Achilles suffered on April 12, but when he's ready to return, it could be hard for D'Antoni to stop his star guard from starting. Bryant's role will be what it always has been. He'll be a top-flight scorer if he's healthy. But it's hard to guess how long his recovery will keep him sidelined, and if his return to the court -- after taking the entire summer off -- will be as seamless as the Lakers would hope.

Pau Gasol -- Gasol was battered by knee injuries last season, but underwent procedures in May to battle tendinitis. The 33-year-old is coming off a down year that included a career-low 13.7-point average on 47 percent shooting. The second year in D'Antoni's offense might give Gasol better results. Howard won't be clogging up the middle, and though Gasol will need to play alongside Chris Kaman, there's more offensive versatility between the two to make success possible.

Steve Nash -- How much of a load can the 39-year-old point guard carry? Nash will quickly answer that on a team that may not have Bryant dominating the ball to start the year. Nash and Gasol will likely need to develop their chemistry on pick and rolls, and Nash's perimeter teammates will need to get open for a team that will rely upon ball movement, with or without Bryant.

Chris Kaman -- Last year with the Dallas MavericksKaman supposedly didn't fit with Dirk Nowitzki and crew, but he could shine as a fine pick-and-pop threat who should be able to find open shots working with Nash. Kaman should have enough range to be compatible with Gasol's passing ability.

Nick Young -- Young has had an erratic career, but when given upwards of 25 minutes per game, he has proven to be more than a double-digit scorer. In D'Antoni's offense, he could be the most capable and most appreciative player to have a quick trigger. The career 37 percent three-point shooter will give the Lakers offense more of a spread look than last season. And if Bryant misses any amount of time, Young will be the go-to perimeter option.

Rotation players

Jordan Hill -- Last season, Hill only played 29 games because of a season-ending hip injury. When he's healthy, he will be the first big man off the bench in what's a very thin frontcourt. Hill could see a lot of playing time if Gasol's recovery from his knee procedures keeps him out to begin the season. If a Kaman-Gasol starting lineup doesn't work, Hill could potentially start as, arguably, the team's best defender.

Steve Blake -- Blake's health and his success will be paramount in how well the Lakers play. He's coming off a season where a hamstring problem hampered him, but this season he'll be heavily relied upon to keep Nash's playing time as close as possible to 30 minutes per game. If Nash is hurt, he'll be the first man up.

Robert Sacre -- The former Gonzaga Bulldog has done a lot to impress the Lakers front office and earned a guaranteed contract because of it. Considering the Lakers' injury issues, the 7'0, 260-pound center very well could see spurts of significant playing time.

Jodie Meeks -- Meeks played 20 minutes per game last season and averaged 7.9 points, but his role could be threatened by the additions of Young and Wes Johnson. Meeks can secure playing time with his defense and an improved three-point shot, which has fallen off in the past few seasons after he shot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc three years ago in Philadelphia.

Wes Johnson -- Finding wing depth has been tough for the financially-strapped Lakers, but Johnson might be a solid budget bench scorer. On a bad Phoenix Suns team last season, Johnson had flashes of scoring potential, averaging 13.4 points per game in 21 starts.

Jordan Farmar -- Farmar returns to the Lakers after spending time in New Jersey and overseas, and he could crack the rotation as the most athletic point guard on the roster. He also has the shooting ability to fit well into the offense.

Deep on the bench

Elias Harris -- The undersized rookie power forward could earn a spot on the roster as a stretch power forward. He's on a partially-guaranteed deal.

Shawne Williams -- Williams, also on a partially-guaranteed contract, has proven himself as a capable NBA swingman when he's not dealing with off-court trouble, but will need to earn a roster spot behind Young and Johnson.

Xavier Henry -- Just 22 years old, Henry is a big-bodied shooting guard who hasn't gained any traction in the league. That said, he might be worth keeping if Los Angeles believes he can develop.

Ryan Kelly -- The second-round pick out of Duke is coming off a prolonged foot injury, but at 6'11 projects as another stretch power forward.

Marcus Landry -- The 6'7 forward is a faster and more perimeter-oriented forward than his brother, Sacramento Kings forward Carl Landry.

Head coach

Mike D'Antoni -- D'Antoni took a lot of flak for the Lakers' failed 2012-13 campaign, but this year he has less drama and more pieces that fit with Howard now in Houston. Obviously, it won't be easy. The Lakers only signed bargain free agents this summer and will have to deal with age and injury questions regarding Nash, Bryant and Gasol. Nonetheless, the coaching staff and the team are his for the first full year, and now it's time for him to prove he can raise expectations in Los Angeles.

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