Jaxson Hayes Says It’s ‘Surreal’ Signing With Lakers After Growing Up Watching Kobe Bryant & Shaquille O’Neal
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers had a busy couple days of free agency as they managed to come to terms with a number of free agents to bolster the current roster.

The Lakers were able to address their perimeter needs on Day 1, but the center position quickly became an area of concern as the team didn’t sign anyone to back up Anthony Davis. However, they were able to remedy that on Day 2 when they were able to lure Jaxson Hayes to the team on a two-year contract.

Hayes has spent his career so far with the New Orleans Pelicans but fell out of the rotation after they acquired Larry Nance Jr. As such, the young center hit the market and lands on a Los Angeles team that could use more size and athleticism in the front court.

The former No. 8 overall pick gets a fresh start and discussed his excitement to play for the Lakers after growing up watching Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and teammate LeBron James, via ESPN Los Angeles:

“It’s super surreal. Just growing up watching Kobe, Shaq, all those guys. I mean, I was a big Lakers fan. Obviously, I was a bigger Cavs fan of Bron back in the day cause I’m from Ohio, but I definitely grew up watching the Lakers all the time and actually being able to put on a Lakers uniform and see my name in a Lakers uniform is a pretty surreal moment.”

Hayes is old enough to remember the glory days of the Bryant and O’neal era of Lakers basketball, leading the franchise to a three-peat at the start of the new century. Kids growing up around then fell in love with basketball watching the dynamic duo and Hayes is no different.

As far as his fit on the team, Hayes projects as the first big off the bench behind Davis and will serve as their vertical spacer in pick-and-roll sets as well as a good dump off option underneath the basket. Hayes might not have much in terms of outside shooting and post moves, but his athleticism and sure hands pop off the screen and he should benefit next to the Lakers’ playmakers.

Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis discuss what Kobe Bryant meant to them growing up

Like Hayes, rookies Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis caught their fair share of Lakers games as children. At their introductory press conference, both Hood-Schifino and Lewis discussed what Bryant meant to them growing up.

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