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Lakers Free Agency: The Rich Get Richer

It’s a few days into NBA free agency. Lakers fans are still riding high from the 2020 Bubble Title (myself included). There are early reports that PG Rajon Rondo is not that interested in returning to help defend the title. When I heard this news, I wasn’t too worried. We all knew that Rondo would be a hot commodity in the offseason — and the Lakers were literally coming off an NBA title. However, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka thought differently. I guess that’s why I am not working for the Lakers despite my attempts.

Part 1 – Get a PG

  • Lakers Get: G Dennis Schröder (1-Year/$15,500,000)
  • Thunder Get: G Danny Green (1-Year/$15,365,854), 2020 First Round Pick (#28 Pick – F Jaden McDaniels)

While most of us were sleeping, Pelinka was working deals. The Lakers and Thunder agreed to a deal late on Nov 15. The deal would send G Dennis Schröder to the Lakers in exchange for Danny Green and the 28th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. As soon as I heard this move, I was head-over-heels! Pelinka … you did it again! This is a steal for the Lakers. While Danny Green was a valuable member of the Lakers, his play declined in the Bubble. Green’s postseason performances during the last two playoffs have been mediocre as well — which coincidentally resulted in back-to-back NBA titles. After another trade, Green is now a member of the 76ers, so it all worked out for DG. As a Laker fan, I thank you for your service and for helping bring a title back to the Lakers.

As for Schröder, the Lakers get a guy who led the NBA in scoring off the bench (18.9 ppg) and finished 2nd in 6th Man of the Year voting (more on that later as well). Schröder brings intensity and youth. He brings the ability to drive-and-kick, and a semi-decent shooter from three (125/325, 38.5%). The Lakers traded a 33-year old spot-up shooter who was on the downside of his career, and turned it into a 27-year old point guard who is in his prime. Sure, Schröder will demand a payday in 2022, but If the Lakers win back-to-back titles, you better “back up the brinks truck”. This move essentially put an end to Rondo’s time with the Lakers at the time. Since then, Rondo is looking to sign with the Hawks.

Part 2 – Replace Danny Green

Lakers Get: G/F Wesley Matthews (1-Year/$3,500,000)

After acquiring Schröder, the Lakers filled the Rondo void. Now, the Lakers needed to fill the Danny Green sized hole at the wing position. *Wes Matthews has entered the chat*. After Matthews opted out of his deal with the Bucks, the rumor mill was SWIRLING about the wingman joining LeBron in LA. This is another steal by Pelinka. We don’t know who initiated the conversation, but I think we all have to assume LeBron and AD are in these players ears or DMs like a desperate thirst trap.

Matthews leaves Milwaukee and joins the reigning champions in Los Angeles. On scenery alone, it’s a massive upgrade (no offense to those out in Milwaukee, but I know it’s cold AF right now). Matthews joins the champions and does not have to worry about the ‘Giannis extension’ problem that the Bucks have. Matthews isn’t in his prime, but he can still shoot the ball from three. He shot 36.4% in 2020 and is a 38% three-point shooter for his career. Without a doubt, he will get the most wide-open looks he has ever gotten, so it’s time to make the most of it.

Part 3 – Pysch Out Dwight

76ers Get: C Dwight Howard (1-Year/$2,500,000)

It was a foregone conclusion — Dwight Howard will be back in purple and gold. Everyone knew that Dwight would get more suitors than he did last year, but considering his play with the Lakers and how Kobe’s death affected Dwight, it seems that he would end up back in purple-and-gold. Free agency started and Dwight tweeted out “I’m back”. Bobby Marks said Dwight was staying in LA for 1-Year/$3M. Immediately after those two tweets, a tweet came across our feeds from Shams, indicating that Dwight-to-LA was not a done deal. Then, POOF, the Howard tweet was deleted. *GASP!* Cue Lakers Twitter going ape-sh*t. As it turns out, Dwight only thought he had a deal with the Lakers. So, after not hearing anything from Rob, Dwight joins his former-GM in Philly.

Rob clearly had something up his sleeve here. Dwight was a valuable member of the Lakers last season, there is no doubt about it. But in clutch moments, Dwight was more valuable rooting for his team on the bench than on the court. With Javale McGee opting in as well, the Lakers did not want another logjam at the center position.

Part 4 – Get a Big

Lakers Get: F Montrezl Harrell (2-Year/$18,000,000)

This is where Rob Pelinka shined the brightest. After losing Dwight, NBA Twitter was having a field day. All kinds of trash-talking about how Dwight ‘played the Lakers’. At this point in time, they were going to lose Rondo, Dwight, and Avery Bradley (most likely). Then came the BOMB.

The Lakers not only replaced Dwight with the reigning 6th Man of the Year, THEY POCHED HIM FROM THE 2ND BEST TEAM IN THE WEST! This move is a POWER MOVE from the Lakers. To get Montezl for only $9M a season is highway robbery. Rob Pelinka should change his name to Daniel Ocean because this was a heist. The best part about this isn’t even the basketball. It’s THIS:

The Clippers are not happy about this move and that makes ALL Lakers fans happy. Usually, I don’t settle for petty wins. But the Clippers have been so annoying by anointing themselves this is a very sweet dub. On the court, this makes the Lakers deadly. The NBA is moving towards small-ball and this move puts the Lakeshow in a prime position to win another title.

What’s Next

Obviously, there is still more that needs to happen. KCP needs to be resigned. Morris too. Bradley is still out there. There are some shooters available as well, so Pelinka is not done yet, but I know he is smiling. And so is Lebron.

NBA Free Agency: The Lakers flexed their muscles early and drastically improved their roster. NLJ breaks it all down.

Brandon Rosenthal

I have been following basketball since the mid-90’s and writing about it since the 2010’s. I write about the NBA, NFL, and Golf. You can read all of my articles on NLJ below!

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