A little over 48 hours into free agency and the biggest names are yet to sign. KD still has meetings set up and LeBron hasn’t signed his max with Cleveland yet. But this is all pretty irrelevant as it directly relates to the Lakers. These guys and other big stars aren’t coming (this year).
The Lakers have been among the most active teams in the first couple days, making three big signings:
Jordan Clarkson – 4 years, $50 million
I’ll start with JC because it was pretty much a no-brainer. He’s young, he’s cheap-ish, and he’s part of this core that LA is going to build around. Plus the Lakers were going to be able to match any other team’s offer on him because of the Arenas rule. Either way, smart move to keep him; I wouldn’t have put it past the front office to mess this one up.
Timofey Mozgov – 4 years, $64 million
This is a lot of money and a lot of years for a guy whose career and health seem to be in decline. But I’m perfectly (well not perfectly, but I don’t hate it a ton) alright with this signing. He may not have been the best option, but with the cap being where it is, the money is right for the Lakers version of Andrew Bogut. A slow big dude who will get 25 minutes per game as a presence inside in the same system Luke Walton ran with Steve Kerr. Again, may not have been the best option, but when you look at what his role will (should) be, it makes sense.
Luol Deng – 4 years, $72 million
I absolutely love this signing. Deng is a really good guy who will be a role model for the young core on and off the court. And best of all, he can still play. Deng will take the pressure off of Ingram for the first few years. He doesn’t have to be forced into situations he isn’t prepared for. He can sit back and learn from one of the most consistent wings this league has had over the past decade. While four years guaranteed is a long time for someone his age, it’s the deal that had to be made. And I love it.
I like what the Lakers have done so far. They’ve gotten better; not that it was hard to do after the two worst seasons in franchise history. But they’re doing it the right way. They’re trying to do it the Warriors and Thunder way. Build from the draft and just bet on your picks. I’m not saying D’Angelo Russell will turn into Steph Curry and Brandon Ingram will turn into Kevin Durant. But just ride it out. Build some skill and some trust and some wins. And just maybe the Lakers will be back to being the Lakers in just a few short years. Either way, I’m excited to see what happens.