The Los Angeles Lakers went into the 2022 NBA Draft without a pick, but the sense was they would buy their way into the second round.
On draft night, the Lakers ended up trading for the No. 35 overall pick which they used to take Michigan State shooting guard Max Christie. Los Angeles is starved for capable 3-and-D players, and Christie projects to fill that role and possibly more with his defensive acumen and a smooth shooting stroke that could translate at the NBA level.
During the NBA 2K23 Summer League in Las Vegas, the Lakers finally announced they signed Christie to a deal that was reportedly for two years. According to Keith Smith of Sportrac, the deal is worth the minimum:
Max Christie has signed a two-year, minimum contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, a source tells @spotrac.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 10, 2022
Christie’s two-year deal is the same as the ones the Lakers handed to Talen Horton-Tucker and Austin Reaves, but this may end up being a mistake in the short term. Because Los Angeles used the entirety of their mid-level exception, they were unable to sign Horton-Tucker and Reaves to three-year deals at the minimum.
Horton-Tucker hit free agency a year earlier and the same situation is going to play out for Reaves this upcoming summer. Reaves’ new deal will likely make a dent in the team’s cap space during the summer of 2023, a scenario that could have been avoided at the time of his signing.
As far as this year goes, perhaps the Lakers needed to offer the full mid-level in order to convince Lonnie Walker IV to come for a year, but it still seems like this could have been avoided. Christie will probably need to spend the year in the G League to properly develop, but come next season it would not be surprising to see him play well for the parent team and put them in the same jam they have been in the past couple of years.
Magic Johnson believes Max Christie can emulate Austin Reaves and Alex Caruso’s success with Lakers
Christie already drew some praise from fellow Michigan State alum Draymond Green and he has another fan in Magic Johnson.
The Lakers legend is a fan of the rookie’s defensive potential and IQ and believes he could possibly find the same success as Alex Caruso and Reaves.
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