Lakers

Lakers Hit Every Shot in Free Agency

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It didn’t take long for the Lakers to make their mark on NBA free agency and dominate the market. Just 20 hours after free agency opened, Los Angeles signed or retained seven players (three returners, four newcomers).

The Lakers’ front office seemed to hit on every signing. From preserving the core that made it to the Western Conference Finals by retaining Austin Reaves, D’Angelo RussellRui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt to bolstering their depth by signing Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish.

LA finally reverted back to the system that won them an NBA Championship in 2020 — surrounding LeBron James and Anthony Davis with above-average role players. And they did it rather cost-effectively.

GET IN. GRAB THE MONEY. GET OUT.

A glaring trend in their movement was LAL’s ability to come out with astonishingly favorable deals with these players. Every move was calculated and it all made for a tremendous off-season for the Lakers.

Let’s take a look at some of the steals that Los Angeles snagged on Friday and Saturday:

AUSTIN REAVES (4 YEARS, $56 MILLION)

The biggest priority this offseason was retaining Reaves at all costs. Fortunately, that cost wasn’t as much as they were bracing it to be. Rob Pelinka called the bluff of the many teams that had reported interest in offering Reaves his max of four years, ~$102 million . This chess move proved to be the most crucial of this year’s free agency.

The Lakers now intend on running the offense through Reaves more next season, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Entering his third year in the league, Reaves has shown consistent growth in his ability to control the floor alongside James and Russel.

GABE VINCENT (3 YEARS, $33 MILLION)

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all their signings, Los Angeles reinforced their need for defending and toughness in the backcourt by taking in Vincent. When compared to the type of money Dennis Schröder got (two years, $26 million), Vincent’s deal with the Lakers is favorable considering that he is a clear upgrade over Schröder.

Although only averaging 9.4 points on 40.2/33.2/87.2 shooting splits last season, Vincent shined in the playoffs for Miami — consistently being their best guard all postseason.

Despite being 6-foot-2, his point-of-attack defending keeps shines bright along with his offensive ability. Whether it be off the bench or in the starting lineup, Vincent strengthens LA’s guard rotation.

D’ANGELO RUSSELL (2 YEARS, $37 MILLION)

Although Russell wasn’t atop the priority list when the market opened, bringing him back was still an essential part of their plans.

Many options presented themselves for Lakers at point guard when the season ended. With more of the focus being placed on Reaves as the ball handler, Russell is able to produce effectively off-ball and assume on-ball responsibilities as a tertiary playmaker behind James and Reaves.

Being able to retain the former all-star at just $18.5 mil/year was a stellar deal for LA.

Lakers LAYING DOWN A STRONGER FOUNDATION

After the seven signings, the Lakers are still in search for the 14th player on their roster. Having only enough room for a veteran’s minimum contract, LA will most likely bring in another big man.

Regardless of who they acquire, Los Angeles has an objectively better team than what they finished with last season. More depth, better spacing, added length and most importantly — stabilized continuity.

The Lakers have not valued continuity since their championship in 2020. Every offseason has brought uncertainty of what the next season’s roster would look like. Injuries played a major role in that and, in turn, diminished any possible continuity.

It was different this time around, though. Pelinka and the front office saw this core stay healthy and make it four wins away from an NBA Finals. S0, they kept them together while reinforcing the roster around them.

The mission was clear and the execution was flawless. After having one of the best offseasons around the league, the Lakers are preparing to run it back with a deeper team and their eyes on one goal — banner No. 18.

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