‘Undisputed’ discusses chemistry between LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and A.D.

A week removed from the feeding frenzy that is the opening of NBA free agency, the dust is all starting to settle.

Sure, there are a few impactful players and/or deals to be made, but most of the work got done right as the window opened.

Among those at the forefront of the flood gates opening were the Los Angeles Lakers, who made a massive splash after confirming Russell Westbrook‘s arrival from the Washington Wizards via trade. 

In acquiring Westbrook, the Lakers added a bona fide third star alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The 32-year-old averaged a triple-double a season ago (22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds per game) and has managed to average similar output in four of the past five seasons.

Heading into his 14th season, the two-time scoring champ and nine-time All-Star is atop the career triple-doubles leaderboard with 184, breaking Oscar Robertson’s longstanding record of 181 this past season.

While the trade for Westbrook was the headliner of the offseason for the Lakers, the flurry didn’t stop there.

General manager Rob Pelinka inked several seasoned players to one year, team-friendly deals, including Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza and Kent Bazemore ⁠— all of whom had suited up for the purple in gold in years past.

Also of note, fellow 2003 NBA draftee Carmelo Anthony joined the squad to run alongside LeBron, and the Lakers coaxed Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn to Los Angeles with the incentive of playing for a championship-caliber team.

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Finally, the Lakers kept talented restricted free-agent Talen Horton-Tucker in their ranks, signing the 20-year-old to a reported three-year deal worth $32 million.

Horton-Tucker stands out as the only transaction featuring a pure youngster. Monk is 23 and Nunn is 26, but all of the other aforementioned players Los Angeles acquired are 32 or older, with a combined average age just over 34 for Howard, Ariza, Anthony, Westbrook, Ellington and Bazemore.

But while many of them are up there in age, they provide a vital asset for a LeBron-centric offense: shooting.

So, will this roster overhaul put the Lakers in a position to better their finish from last season? That was the question posed to Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe on Monday’s episode of “Undisputed.” 

A quick refresher: After going 42-30 in the regular season, the Lakers limped into the playoffs after beating the Golden State Warriors in the play-in round.

Matched up with the second-seeded Phoenix Suns, the banged-up Lakers ultimately fell in the opening round, 4-2.

Sharpe said while Westbrook might be an odd fit in Los Angeles, he believes the Lakers are better following the moves.

“This is not a natural fit,” Sharpe said. “But I believe when you get three guys like this ⁠— with these dynamic personalities ⁠— you’ve gotta have a conversation. … Because we’re going to have to sacrifice something in order for this to work. … It will work because I believe they want it to work.”

Hear whether Shannon Sharpe believes the Los Angeles Lakers are in a better or worse spot than last year to win the NBA Finals.

Bayless was on the opposite side of the fence.

He said he can see most of the Lakers’ moves working out, but the albatross – Westbrook – will come back to haunt them.

“Every move that LeBron made is undercut, disqualified, rendered obsolete by the fact that Russell Westbrook is now your primary decision-maker and your point guard,” Bayless said. “It will be impossible for even LeBron James to overcome that.”

For Chris Broussard, the key for the Lakers might actually be Davis, and not James or Westbrook.

“The key is Anthony Davis, still,” Broussard said. “Anthony Davis has got to stay healthy, No. 1, and get back to being one of the best bigs in the league like he was two years ago. If he doesn’t do that, they likely won’t win the West, let alone a championship. A.D. has got to be A.D. of two years ago.”

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Hear why Chris Broussard believes Anthony Davis will be the key to a successful Lakers’ championship run.

With so many moving parts, there are a lot of unknowns about the Lakers heading into the season.

What we do know, however, is that they’ll remain constant fodder for lively discussions.

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