Back when the Los Angeles Lakers were still searching for a new head coach, there were reports that the team was looking “to find someone who can be effective in spearheading their recruiting pitches to free agents.” After the Lakers agreed to two deals within the first few days of free agency, early indications are that Luke Walton is already fulfilling this goal.
During his first interview following his agreement to join the Lakers, Timofey Mozgov said his “conversation with Walton was key” in his decision, with the head coach pitching him on being the team’s “primary center.”
Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reports that Walton was able to have a similar effect on free agent Luol Deng, writing that the forward was “pleased with the conversation” he had with Walton during the recruiting process.
No matter how you feel about these two signings, it’s good news for the Lakers that their new head coach is connecting with players in a positive way. And while superstars aren’t going to take the bait yet, if Walton can follow through on his goals of creating a positive culture for the Lakers alongside a joyful style of play, it will go a long way towards making the team a free agency destination again.
Another thing that could lead to the increased success of the team’s free agency efforts is improvement in both the play and perception of the Lakers’ young players, but Medina reports that the core already has at least one fan in the league:
Deng likes the Lakers young players, including D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.
If Deng (and Mosgov, by all accounts both wonderful locker room presences) can have a positive effect on Russell, Ingram, Randle, and Nance, Jr. as that quartet continues to grow, the group of players who share Deng’s sentiment about them will expand as well.
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