After being eliminated in the Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers knew they need a bit more depth on the roster to help with the workload of Anthony Davis and LeBron James. With their two stars with nagging injuries and having to scrape and crawl into the Play-In Tournament, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka had to do his best in repeating that same scenario heading into the 2023-24 season.
The first signing of free agency was forward Taurean Prince, who was a thorn in L.A.’s side during the Play-In Tournament and has showcased throughout his career that he is a capable 3-and-D wing. A skillset that the Lakers did not have at the beginning of last season, bringing Prince in on a one-year, $4.5 million contract seemed like a bargain.
In 54 games with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the forward averaged 9.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists shooting 46.7% from the field and 38.1% from 3. Prince talked at Lakers Media Day about what went into signing with L.A.
“Just really being around a lot of guys who want one goal in mind to win it all and to be around that standard,” Prince said. “To see it every day, feel it every day and have to be about that every day is going to raise the level of how I carry myself. Not only the ball player I become, but the man I become as well. So just a good situation, great city and who wouldn’t want to be a Laker?”
After having his run-ins with James and Davis throughout his career, Prince explained what it is going to be like to have them as teammates.
“Playing against those guys obviously is a tough matchup, obviously the impact players that you focus on going into the game. And I think, I don’t know what I am against LeBron or AD, but I think they’ve had their fair share of wins against me. And to be on the same team with them now, just try to add on my dynamics to that I can bring to a team and help them be the best they can be and see what happens.”
Being with the Timberwolves last season and seeing the Lakers at the beginning and end of the season, he shared his thoughts on the turnaround from the outside looking in.
“Yeah, well they went through a lot last season as far as different dynamic of team. They made some transitions in the midway point as well and they were still able to come together and get to the Western Conference Finals. So when you see that and you’re able to put a good group together and keep them together, I think the sky is the limit.”
Prince will seemingly have the most open shots of his career playing alongside Davis and James, which will be an added bonus for him trying to achieve his goal of shooting 40% from three. Shooting was one of the things the Lakers needed to improve on after seeing what happened against the Denver Nuggets and they have accomplished it.
The 6’7″ forward has the chance to be a key piece off the bench for L.A. and provide that needed length and shooting on the wing. But he also adds some veteran experience as he heads into his eighth season in the league.
With training camp kicking off, it’ll be intriguing to see how Prince fairs and how he impresses Darvin Ham and the coaching staff leading up to the first preseason game on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Prince shares a touching moment between James and his son
During a regular season matchup between the Timberwolves and Lakers, Prince shared a sentimental story between his son and James. Now, his son gets to attend Lakers games and watch his father and James play side by side.
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