The pressure and attention that comes with being a part of the Los Angeles Lakers is unlike any throughout American sports. Championships are an expectation for this franchise and as such, there are always rumors surrounding potential acquisitions and trades that could see some on the roster shipped out.
That was the case this season as the Lakers were in the middle of a number of trade rumors ahead of the deadline but ultimately failed to make a deal. Sometimes, however, even those rumors can negatively affect some players who haven’t dealt with it. But veteran Jared Dudley doesn’t believe that had any effect on the team whatsoever this time around.
“You play for the Lakers, there’s always gonna be trade rumors,” Dudley said. “Last year when we won the championship, I heard D. Rose might be coming to the Lakers […] You’re always gonna hear names mentioned, I heard Aldridge at the break
“We were a championship team that people at the end of their career are gonna want to jump on and come through… I don’t think that affected it. You’re gonna have that in there, KCP, Kuzma, their names have been mentioned in it before. I remember my name when I was playing a lot of minutes, my name got mentioned just because you’re a good player and it just happens. I don’t think that affected it at all, to be honest with you.”
Even though they didn’t make a trade, the Lakers did bring in a major piece during the season as they signed center Andre Drummond after he was bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers. This immediately created a bit of a logjam at the center position with Marc Gasol being moved to a reserve role, something he was open about struggling with initially.
But Dudley believes the Drummond acquisition ultimately was a positive for the veteran center. “I thought that obviously Drummond coming in, I thought that helped Marc Gasol,” Dudley noted. “I thought Marc struggled earlier in the year, I thought Marc Gasol was phenomenal second half of the year and I thought because Drummond pushed him about his shot, his decision-making, everything he did.
“He’s a guy that has to play off feel and flow and the more he played with you, the better he was. I thought that was perfect. You need competition to push you.”
The Lakers undoubtedly had competition up and down the roster with many different options available depending on what the situation called for. Sometimes that amount of depth can cause issues within the roster, but that has been far from the case in the two years Dudley has been with the Purple and Gold.
“You’re supposed to give yourselves the best basketball players you can to give yourselves a chance. So there was no problem for me the last two years since I’ve been in the locker room of any beef, of any problems. Good chemistry, when we won the chip, chemistry was phenomenal and that’s part of my job to make sure that happens and if it doesn’t happen then I did a poor job. You never heard any reports to any of you guys in the media if there was any problems because there wasn’t.”
Dudley understands his role on a team at this point of his career. His best contributions are what he does during practice and in the locker room and not only does he accept and embrace it, he excels at it.
Dudley hopes to return to Lakers next season
Dudley has been a huge part of the Lakers’ chemistry the last two seasons, but whether there will be a third is up in the air. If Dudley has anything to do with it though, he will definitely be back with the team next season as well.
“1,000%. Come on man, they need me,” Dudley said. “They need me like I need them. Come on.”
The response itself is about as classic of a Dudley quote as there is. He is one of the most beloved players on the roster and the Lakers’ chemistry has been what it is in large part due to his presence.
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