The Los Angeles Lakers made several moves this offseason to turn from pretender to championship contender. Trading for Anthony Davis was the first course of action. With Kawhi Leonard heading to the crosstown Clippers, the Lakers had to look at bargains to fill out the remainder of their roster.
Which one was the best out of the bunch? Keep reading to find out our pick for the Lakers best free agent signing.
Jared Dudley: One year, $2.5 million
Dudley played in a serviceable role for the Nets last season. He brings another strong veteran presence in the locker room, with playoff experience that can help the Lakers in crunch time. He is a career 39% 3-point shooter, and he could fit in with LeBron and company as an eighth or ninth man in the rotation. Chemistry has become a priority over the last couple of seasons, and the Lakers picked up a stand-up guy in the locker room.
Rajon Rondo: Two years, $5.1 million
There wasn’t any doubt in our minds that Rondo was going to re-sign with Los Angeles. Outside of a scuffle with Chris Paul that resulted in a suspension, Rondo has rehabbed his image and was a valuable piece to the Lakers roster in his first year with the club. He averaged nine points and eight assists per game in 2018. Expect those numbers to increase with the talent added to the Lakers.
Troy Daniels: One year, $2 million
On paper, Troy Daniels doesn’t look like a huge deal, but he could sneakily fit into a spot up shooter role for Los Angeles. He averaged over six points per game last year for the Suns and shot an incredible 38% from behind the arc. The Lakers don’t have a lot of deep threats, so Daniels could see about 10-15 minutes per game on the second unit.
DeMarcus Cousins: One year, $3.5 million
After spending 2018 with the Golden State Warriors, we were extremely surprised to see DeMarcus Cousins sign with Los Angeles. With Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala on their way out the door, we figured the Warriors would use another mid-level veterans exception to re-sign the talented center. Instead, he heads to Los Angeles to reunite with Anthony Davis.
The two spent part of the 2017 season in New Orleans and could have been a tough matchup in the Western Conference playoffs, but Cousins tore his Achilles before postseason play began.
This move was only for $3.5 million, but we expect Cousins to strike it rich with his next deal. After averaging 16 points and eight rebounds in limited minutes last season, they should insert him into the starting lineup from day one. A front court of Cousins, Davis, aligned with LeBron reportedly moving to the point guard position, could make this offense very explosive in 2019.
What to expect from the Lakers next season
Before the Clippers landed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Lakers were the early favorite to win the NBA Championship next season. The Lakers will still be in contention, and they should be a top-four seed in the West.
It will take a few weeks for all the moving parts to mesh together, but history indicates the pieces will eventually fit. By Christmas Day last season, the Lakers sat at No. 4, before injuries to James and Lonzo Ball derailed the season. The current team is more talented on paper, and it is clearly a championship contender if all the major players stay healthy.