Here we are for day two action of free agency for the Los Angeles Lakers. The theme of day one was to bring in veterans to fill holes in the roster. Those holes were shooting and were present in the paint. Signing Dwight Howard was a no-brainer, as the team missed him tremendously after allowing him to walk last season,not to mention that bringing in Trevor Ariza was a solid signing for his shooting, ability to defend and veteran presence. Wayne Ellington is solid for this roster as a much needed floor spacer for Los Angeles. Kent Bazemore is a slasher, with a streaky shot and is always up for a challenge on the defensive end. All in all, the first two days came out to be a success in filling out the roster.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, the challenge that the team faced was finding players to join for cheap deals, as having a majority of their payroll going towards LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook makes signing free agents a difficult endeavor. That is the reason why Rob Pelinka sought out veterans who looked to win a championship before retirement. A prime example of this is Carmelo Anthony, whose legacy outside of a ring is pretty much cemented. Being able to find talented pieces for the low can be difficult because many players view themselves as much better than what they are, especially young players.
Of all the signings that Los Angeles made Tuesday, the least surprising one was Carmelo Anthony. The link between James and Anthony has always been evident since their days in High School. It progressed as both were members of the notorious 2003 draft class as well as Olympic teammates from 2004 to 2012. In addition, the coveted banana boat crew has always been a fun connection for these two. Both have made it evident that they love the idea of playing together. The only problems reared their heads when it could actually happen. The two had a chance to play together back in 2011 when Anthony was the original third piece Miami was looking to bring. However, with that breaking up and the Heat going for Bosh instead it looked as if they’d never play together.
Fast forward to 2022, both James and Anthony are teammates at last. While Anthony was out of the league for a brief two years before joining the Portland Trailblazers, many believed James would lobby for him in Los Angeles. That wasn’t the case as Anthony was a Blazer for two seasons. Anthony is well beyond his prime, but still has the tools to be an effective off the bench scorer as we’ve seen in Portland. In his two seasons with Portland, Anthony averaged 14.3 points and 4.6 rebounds on 39.9% shooting from three. Now after signing a one-year $2.5M contract, James will do all he can to help his friend get that ring.
Like it was stated earlier, the most difficult task to do as a GM is finding players to take the minimum, especially if they are young. That is why the signing of Malik Monk came as a surprise to many. If Monk decided to go elsewhere, he’d make around $8M to $10M easily. However after signing with Los Angeles in an effort for a championship, he took a one-year $1.78M contract.
The former 11th pick overall struggled his first few years in the NBA averaging 8.6 points on 32.2% from three and 39.5% overall. Not to mention that Monk served a drug-related suspension in 2020. Despite all this, Monk proved to be a dependable role player for Charlotte last season putting up 11.7 points a game on 40% from three and 43.4% overall.
The biggest surprise signing for the Lakers easily is Kendrick Nunn. Of all the free agents Pelinka signed, Nunn was one out of left field. Signing for the mid level exception, Nunn is receiving a two-year $10M contract. In his two seasons with the Miami Heat, Nunn put up 15 PPG on 36.4% from three and 45.8% overall.
Nunn is a familiar name that Lakers fans should know since he participated in the 2020 NBA Finals. In those Finals, Nunn was a quick guard that the Lakers had trouble dealing with at times. His speed and shot making ability made him a tough guard in moments. In those finals, Nunn averaged 10.5 PPG and 3.5 RPG on 39% from three and 47.1% overall. Nunn is a great off the bench guard who can score in bunches for the Lakers when James takes a break.
Bringing back Talen Horton-Tucker was somewhat of a priority for Los Angeles. The third year guard showed flashes of what he could be in the league. However, he also showed flashes of immaturity and impatience with turnovers and costly shot selection. Although Horton-Tucker had his ups and downs last season, he is still a work in progress with a tremendous upside. Most importantly he brings youth to a veteran team. This is important because he is able to stay on the floor for long periods of time giving rest to older players. What makes this a great signing is that the Lakers brought him back on a three-year $32M contract.
Although the Lakers have the oldest average age in NBA history, they still have the tools to win. Each individual piece that was signed has a purpose and understands the main goal. Not to mention that this Lakers’ team will buy into the defensive end. This is evident as they were a top defense in 2019-2020 and for a period of time in 2020-2021 the number one rated defense. Once the pieces come together and figure out each others tendencies, Showtime 2.0 is upon us.
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