After Jared Dudley signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2019, he kept pointing out the two sides were the perfect match for each other.
L.A. added a selfless veteran to its roster who could take care of the locker room and offer guidance to the team’s young stars, he claimed. And Dudley himself had a chance to win his first NBA championship and get crucial experience playing alongside the league’s best players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Lakers fans often smirked at Dudley’s signing. But the fact is L.A. won the title and the veteran was often credited by teammates for his invaluable mentorship and role in keeping the spirits high throughout the season.
And that only strengthened Dudley’s belief that he and the Los Angeles franchise live in symbiosis as NBA free agency nears. “It’s such a perfect marriage between me and the Lakers,” he told LakersNation.com in an exclusive interview.
Dudley thinks he could prove particularly valuable for L.A. during the 2020-21 campaign. Due to an extremely short offseason, Lakers stars will likely need to get some extra rest throughout the season.
“[For] a team that is going to miss guys throughout the year through resting, through whatever, potentially corona, it’s good to have vets towards the end to be able to help out,” Dudley said.
Dudley recorded the team’s best defensive rating (98.4) during the regular season, although averaging just 8.1 minutes over 45 games.
Dudley does not take a Lakers reunion for granted, even though, the forward said, he would love to be back with the team.
But he hopes the feeling is mutual, especially considering L.A.’s camaraderie was among the league’s best. “Sometimes it’s a business to try to improve the team, but when it comes to the chemistry we had, you don’t want to mess too much with it,” he said.
Dudley: Dec. 22 return good for NBA and its fans
Dudley agreed the eight-week turnaround between the 2020 NBA Finals and the 2020-21 tipoff will be a disadvantage for the Lakers. But the forward said L.A.’s title defense quest will not be hurt by the early return of the games thanks to the team’s roster depth.
And Dudley added the pre-Christmas return is necessary due to financial reasons, to take some of the scheduling burden off the NBA, and to provide people around the world with some comfort and stress relief during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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