Let me start off by saying Jerry West has done it once again. It pains me to say though that he may have pulled off one of the more historic moves in NBA history with the Clippers. Would like to also give credit to Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers for their contributions of getting both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
But the Lakers clearly had a Plan B in place if Kawhi didn’t come to the Lakers. I was worried that the organization would panic because it seemed like the plan was to go all in for Kawhi Leonard. There was an argument however that the Lakers should have just went for role players instead of that third max star. Well, that’s what was executed by Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office. The Lakers were able to sign good role players to team friendly contracts.
Did the Lakers miss out on some other great role players? You could make the argument that they did. But any team should put themselves in the position to get a the final piece to a dynasty, like Kawhi Leonard. Any team would form a three-headed monster like Davis-James-Leonard. If it means to wait, then wait.
This team is no longer the weird mix of veterans and the young core anymore. The only young players on the team are Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. Zach Norvell Jr and Talen Horton-Tucker are also young but they aren’t highly coveted as say like a Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. This team is now a veteran team filled with players who have been through it all, who have seen the big games. Jared Dudley, Demarcus Cousins, Quinn Cook, Danny Green, and some of the re-signed players like Javale McGee and Rajon Rondo have championship experience as well.
These players have their flaws, don’t get me wrong, but I like the pieces that the Lakers surrounded Lebron James and Anthony Davis with. Is it an A+ surrounding cast of role players? No it is not, but they have their strengths.
The Lakers also have put themselves in positions to include one of the contracts in possible mid-season trades as well. If the Lakers need to match salaries, some of these contracts are large enough to match with some of the higher tier players.
My Favorite Free Agency Signing
The Lakers signed good role players. But my favorite signing was the Demarcus Cousins signing. I think for the value the Lakers got for him at a one year, $3.5M contract, it is incredible value for a player who was once the best center in the NBA. Is he that still? Definitely not. But who knows, maybe he can rebound and have a career year. I like the Cousins signing because he is underrated by the NBA community in my opinion nowadays. He averaged 16 and 8 on year one recovering from his Achilles injury. That is impressive, not to mention he was the 4th or 5th option on a very stacked Golden State Warriors team. The Lakers signed a guy who has a lot to prove and has a chip on his shoulder. The pairing of Demarcus and Davis when they were on the Pelicans was something to be reckon with. Noteworthy that Rajon Rondo was on that team as well. Cousins and Davis both thrived off of each other with their complimentary skillsets which are very unique. Not many people remember, but one of the main positions that Pelicans team was missing was a wing. Well, the Lakers have the best wing of all time in Lebron James. Now, the big x-factor in this is Cousins’s achilles injury. I’m no doctor by any means but seeing tweets from doctors, year 2 in an achilles recovery is usually when a player starts to feel like himself. Hopefully Cousins can start to feel like himself this season and surprise many people this year and make the pairing of Davis and Cousins something special.
Overall, I thought the Lakers rebounded well. The Lakers signed good role players, not great, but good. I’m fairly content with the team right now considering the context of the whole landscape of the league right now. One concern I have is, as much as I like Cook and Caruso, Rondo I have questions for but he is fine, I still think the Lakers need one more guard to make me feel more comfortable in that position. Jeremy Lin is still out there and maybe the Lakers can take a serious look at him.
If I had to give a grade for the Lakers just based on in terms of these free agency acquistions, I would give them a B-.