Coming into free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers were quite limited with their options. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis take up the most cap space, leaving one taxpayer mid-level exception and the rest veteran minimum deals.
The mid-level exception would be the crown jewel and the Lakers awarded it to Lonnie Walker IV. Walker, a strong wing with explosive athleticism, is a career 34.3% shooter from deep but oozes confidence in his shot.
The Lakers spent the rest of their money rounding out the roster with Damian Jones, Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson and Thomas Bryant. League insiders reportedly agree these are mostly solid additions, but, with the exception of Bryant, are missing one important trait — 3-point shooting.
It’s no secret surrounding the Big 3 with knockdown shooters is a recipe for success. So far, the Lakers have struggled to do that, but it may not be their fault, via Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times:
“Another league insider pointed to the lack of shooting, in general, in this free-agency class within the team’s price range. Guard Donte DiVincenzo, who has only a slightly better career three-point percentage than Walker, was considered but eventually bypassed because of injury concerns. He signed with the Golden State Warriors for $4.5 million.”
Donte DiVincenzo, who wound up signing with the Golden State Warriors, shoots just 0.4% better than Walker for his career. Injuries though seemed to be a bigger concern for the Lakers. He missed most of the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2021 title run because of an ACL injury. Since playing 66 games in consecutive seasons, DiVencenzo played 42 games last year.
Due to the Lakers’ limited cap flexibility, Walker might have been the best option for the Purple and Gold. He’s expressed his intent on becoming a high-level defender for the Lakers and someone willing to do whatever is needed to win.
But, general manager Rob Pelinka made it clear the Lakers aren’t done with their roster. He said there is “still more work to be done,” likely in the form of shooting reinforcements. With one roster spot available, Pelinka will have to make it count.
Brown eager to show versatility in fast-paced Lakers offense
Adding young wing players was among points of emphasis for the Lakers coming into the offseason. Moments into free agency it seemed like the box was checked with former Chicago Bull Troy Brown Jr.
The 6-foot-6 Brown is prepared to bring whatever play style into the Lakers’ potentially rapid offense.
“It’s one of those things where if I’m asked to be 3-and-D or I’m asked to be a playmaker I can definitely adjust,” he said. “I think versatility is the reason I’m here in the NBA. I definitely still have it, I’m always working on it I just feel like as of right now I feel like I’ve been asked, like you said in Chicago, as of recently I’ve been asked to be more 3-and-D.”
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