The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to usher in some significant turnover to the roster following their first-round exit against the Phoenix Suns. However, Jared Dudley has once again made it no secret that he fully committed to returning to the team in free agency.
Dudley was credited with serving as a veteran presence in the locker room during their 2020 championship season in the bubble. The role he played helped him return on a one-year deal in the team’s efforts to defend their title.
Despite his confidence, it remains to be seen how well-warranted Dudley’s optimism about coming back for a third season is. After all, the 35-year-old is coming off a rough year after suffering a torn MCL that kept him out most of the season.
Dudley’s 6.8 minute average in 12 games is a significant drop-off from last year, when he averaged 8.1 minutes in 45 games. This resulted in career-low marks of 0.5 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting just 2-for-9 from the field. Meanwhile, the bulk of his mere five minutes of action in the playoffs came during garbage time, the Lakers’ 30-point loss to the Phoenix Suns in Game 5.
There is no question that the Purple and Gold value players that bring a championship mentality to the locker room. Regardless, they may be looking to use one of their precious roster spots on either a proven contributor from last season or a potential project player with promise in order to help them get back on track.
Dudley’s contributions this season were few and far between due to the injury. His best outing came against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the third game of the season after hitting his lone three-point attempt and grabbing two rebounds in nearly eight minutes of action.
With another season and a significant injury under his belt, the wear and tear on Dudley could make it difficult for him to find his way back on the roster. There will be no shortage of productive veterans looking to join the Lakers’ quest to reclaim their title.
It will be interesting to see how the offseason plays out and whether a return is in the books for Dudley following the team’s disappointing finish.
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