As the Los Angeles Lakers play the waiting game for Kawhi Leonard, they have signed Jared Dudley on a minimum deal to give some depth behind Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Since Leonard hasn’t made a decision, the Lakers will be forced to use either minimum deals or eat into their room exception to avoid using any cap space.
Dudley was a huge locker room presence and on-court positive for the Brooklyn Nets during the 2018-10 NBA season, averaging 4.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in just 20.7 minutes. He was a major part in helping the Nets reach the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs and remain competitive against a more talented Philadelphia 76ers team.
Dudley, now having made the move to the Lakers, said that he’s excited for a chance to compete for a championship — something he hasn’t been able to do since the Steve Nash-Phoenix Suns era, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:
Jared Dudley on joining Lakers: "This is something I've been contemplating. I'd be getting a chance to compete for a championship, which is something I haven't had since the Steve Nash [Suns] days. I just think that being home and with that Laker brand, what's better than that?"
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 2, 2019
Dudley seems to be very passionate about the chance to play for the purple and gold and as a veteran bench presence, there aren’t much better around this league. Nets players last season often raved about the leadership Dudley brought and during the playoffs — when he famously got into it with Ben Simmons — rallied the whole young team behind him.
The last line of Dudley’s quote feels like a shout out to Leonard, who has yet to decide between the Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Toronto Raptors. The idea of being at home with one of sports’ most powerful brands on one’s side is something that appeals many players to the Laker, and it’s something Dudley may use to try and recruit Leonard.
Also, Dudley seems confident that the tandem of Davis and James is enough to make Los Angeles a championship contender. This is in spite of the fact that Dudley is just the sixth official member of the roster with Kyle Kuzma, Troy Daniels, and Talen Horton-Tucker making up the other three spots.
Dudley’s passion for Los Angeles and locker room presence further fuels the idea that Rob Pelinka may just know what he’s doing, as this is another smart addition in an offseason that has been filled with positive moves.