From the very beginning, Jared Dudley was confident the Lakers would bring him back in free agency. He was even willing to beg for his spot from outside general manager Rob Pelinka’s house. In the end, that (seemingly) wasn’t necessary, as the team is bringing back Dudz anyway, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
“ I’m back.” ( Jordan voice)— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) November 30, 2020
Dudley may not have played very much during the NBA playoffs, only appearing in 32 garbage-time minutes on the Lakers’ run to the championship, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t valuable. Dudley was a huge key to the Lakers retaining their team chemistry during what Pelinka recently referred to as a “lord of the flies” experience in the NBA bubble. For the veteran’s minimum, contenders need guys like Dudz who are happy to remain vocal parts of the locker room but never grouse about not playing, and he fulfilled his role to a T, even if they never ended up needing him on the court in a significant moment.
Plus, he became like an honorary mascot for Lakers fans, with his candidness making him a favorite. I mean, who else was going to admit that the Lakers literally laughed at the Clippers blowing a 3-1 lead? I mean, we all knew they probably did, but most guys wouldn’t admit it. Dudley always was happy to take us behind the curtain of this run, though.
Now, he’ll be back to do it again, and during a shortened and expedited season that begins just over two months after the Lakers won the 2020 championship, the team will need fresh legs to play spot minutes. Luckily for them, Dudley has had a little more rest than his teammates, and should be ready to soak up as many minutes as they need before happily retreating into the background once more.