Lakers News: Jaxson Hayes Evaluates Individual 2023-24 Season
Jaxson Hayes, Lakers, Timberwolves
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Last free agency period featured the Los Angeles Lakers taking a flyer on former lottery pick center Jaxson Hayes. After struggling to find a consistent role and minutes with the New Orleans Pelicans, Hayes came to L.A. looking to find some answers and become a legit rotation player.

He would go onto back up Anthony Davis for a majority of the season since the big man needs someone to buy him 10-15 minutes a night when he is off the floor. It wound up being a tandem of Hayes and Christian Wood, both of which had their moments throughout the season, but were not physical enough to handle stronger centers.

Specifically for the former Texas Longhorn, his athleticism and thunderous dunks provided some much-needed most nights when the Lakers were struggling. Yet, his minutes were limited and not consistent, something that Hayes struggled with in his first season with the purple and gold.

“Definitely struggled a lot to start the year,” Hayes said of his play and role. “Just in and out of the rotation, not knowing when I was gonna get minutes and having very inconsistent minutes. I feel like when Coach benched me for that month and a half, I was able to sit back and actually figure out how I can help this team more and I feel like as the season went on, I tried to grow more into my role of just being the backup and bringing energy and stuff.”

Despite his role not being as he imagined, Hayes shared that being a Laker helped him grow a lot this past season as he is still 24-years-old.

“They definitely helped me grow a ton this past year,” he said. “Helped me get a lot of exposure that I know I wasn’t getting before. Helped me try to figure out more of who I am as a player even though this year I was in more of a backup role player, which I know that’s not my ceiling. It was a good year just to be able to play with some good players and just get to learn from greatness this year. So the Lakers helped me a lot with that this year.”

A common strategy for the past couple of seasons is general manager Rob Pelinka taking a gamble on a young player with upside at the minimum. If Hayes returns to the Lakers, he could continue to grow alongside Davis should he believe that is the right choice for him as he has a player option for the 2024-25 season.

Jaxson Hayes unsure if he will exercise player option for next season

Free agency is now a month away and there are still a number of Lakers that need to make a decision on their player options. One of them being Jaxson Hayes and he is unsure if he will exercise his option for next season.

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