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Los Angeles Lakers add veteran depth to bolster roster around Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis

Lakers took the first step towards restocking their depleted roster in the wake of the blockbuster Russell Westbrook deal, agreeing to contracts with veterans Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington in the opening hours of free agency on Monday

Dwight Howard

An ongoing overhaul of the Los Angeles Lakers roster has turned up a few old faces on the first day of NBA free agency.

Center Dwight Howard, swingman Trevor Ariza and guard Wayne Ellington have all agreed terms to rejoin the Lakers, according to multiple reports on Monday night.

Small forward Kent Bazemore is also being added to the roster to provide shooting around their new star-studded core of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.

Ellington and Bazemore will sign one-year deals with the team and the Lakers can officially introduce their new point guard, Russell Westbrook on the same day - August 6 - as the league year begins.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Bazemore reportedly turned down more money from the Golden State Warriors, the team he played for last season, believing that he will be afforded greater opportunity to win a championship in Los Angeles.

Bazemore shot a career-best 40.8 per cent from deep during the 20-21 season and should help replace some of the shooting the Lakers have lost with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso all leaving the team.

Howard, an eight-time All-Star who turns 36 in December, is set to embark on a third stint with the Lakers. He was a key part of the 2019 NBA title team but left for the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency last season, coming off the bench there behind Joel Embiid to average 7.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in his 17th year in the league.

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With the Lakers agreeing to send Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope and Montrezll Harrell to Washington in exchange for Westbrook, James and Davis had been the lone holdovers from that title team until Howard's decision to return following his lone season in Philadelphia.

Kobe Bryant high-fives Trevor Ariza during Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals
Image: Kobe Bryant high-fives Trevor Ariza during Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals

Ariza was with the Lakers in 2009 when the team won the title. He's the only player from a Kobe Bryant-led championship team remaining in the NBA. The 36-year-old has played for six other teams since 2018 and was a member of the Miami Heat last season, playing 30 games and averaging 9.4 points per game.

Meanwhile Ellington averaged 9.6 points per game with the Detroit Pistons last season. Now 33, he entered the NBA in 2009 and is a career 38.2 per cent shooter from three-point range. He shot 42.2% from beyond the arc in 20-21, one of the best marks of his career, and should help space the floor for the Lakers' three stars.

Along with James, Davis, Marc Gasol and the incoming Westbrook, Monday's additions will give the Lakers seven players under contract for next season. They also have a team option on deep reserve Alfonzo McKinnie.

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