One of the more surprising decisions by the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason was choosing not to bring back veteran forward Jared Dudley. Though he wasn’t in the rotation regularly, Dudley was invaluable in the locker room, basically serving as another coach and was beloved by his teammates, especially LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
With it being clear that a return to Los Angeles wasn’t happening, Dudley would surprisingly elect to join the Dallas Mavericks coaching staff under their new head coach and former Lakers assistant Jason Kidd.
The move was one that was completely unexpected and the reactions to the news made it clear that some were unhappy. Dudley, specifically, made it known that he expected to return to the Lakers for another season and was surprised by their decision.
With his impact on a locker room well known throughout the league, it would have made sense if another team chose to bring in Dudley, but that was never an option. On an episode of the HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto reported that Dudley was never going to play anywhere else other than with the Lakers:
Jared Dudley told me he was either going back to the Lakers, or he was going to retire. He wasn’t looking to go anywhere else and play.
Knowing he was at the end of his career, there is no doubt that Dudley only cared about potentially winning another championship and he loved being a member of the Lakers organization. Dudley is also a Southern California native growing up in San Diego, so being with the Lakers afforded him everything he wanted to wind down his playing career.
Once that was no longer a possibility, he chose to move on to the next phase of his life, which is coaching and that is no surprise to anyone. Dudley was one of the smartest and most well-respected players in the league so this move just makes sense.
Losing Dudley was something many in the Lakers locker room didn’t want to see happen and he wanted the same, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards.
Lakers remain betting favorites to win Western Conference
With the moves the team did make this offseason, the Lakers remain the betting favorites to win the Western Conference and head to the NBA Finals. The Lakers are followed by the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers as the team expected to make it through.
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