In a rare bit of patience and realistic thinking, the Lakers opted not to swing big for free agents this summer. Instead, the team mixed retaining its core with sensible signings to upgrade around the edges.
The result was a summer in which the Lakers almost objectively improved without any drastic changes while so many teams around them took quite different approaches. At least in the immediate aftermath, the Lakers patience is being praised as the right move.
In a recent article by Dan Woike of the LA Times, the consensus among those around the league is that the Lakers did well in free agency.
The general sense of the Lakers’ free agency has landed somewhere between “pretty good” and “great.”
Among the highlights was signing Gabe Vincent with the mid-level exception, a move most see as a great signing alongside LeBron James.
One league executive raved about the Lakers signing Gabe Vincent, saying the guard is “the perfect point guard to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.”
The executive cited Mario Chalmers as a player who reminds him of Vincent. “[Vincent] doesn’t need the ball, can shoot it and makes the right decisions. And, he can really defend.”
Woike also notes that Reaves’ contract is seen as a steal while fellow restricted free agent Rui Hachimura’s deal had more questions.
There were some split opinions on Rui Hachimura and Russell, which was expected considering their pasts in the league. With Hachimura, some executives wondered whom the Lakers were bidding against in free agency when they gave him an average of $17 million per year over the next three seasons. Maybe a better deal could’ve been had.
Still, supporters of the decision pointed to two key factors. First, Hachimura answered one of the big questions about him — how he’d perform under an intense spotlight — in a wonderful postseason run when he was one of the team’s most reliable shooters. Second, he showed consistent toughness and fight — for example, his willingness to defend center Nikola Jokic — that made some people around the NBA think the Lakers possibly unlocked something in him.
If the biggest question mark for the Lakers from this offseason is whether they slightly overpaid Hachimura, then it’s a far more successful offseason than in year’s past. Those are much easier concerns to be quelled then ones about how Russell Westbrook fits with LeBron James and Anthony Davis...and far less impactful concerns.
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