As the league awaits blockbuster trades for stars Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell, moves have come to a lull, especially for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Purple and Gold haven’t signed a new free agent since Thomas Bryant on July 6. The nearly three-week hiatus isn’t a complete surprise — L.A. was negotiating for a Kyrie Irving trade and their lack of cap space leaves just one open roster spot to work with.
So far, it seems they’re being patient with free agent deals, focusing rather on finding a trade partner for Russell Westbrook. The former MVP has suitors in the league, but only if the Lakers can offer the right price, which is easier said than done.
As currently constructed, the Lakers roster doesn’t spell championship-contending potential. However, ESPN analyst and former NBA player Mark Jackson believed otherwise when he appeared on ESPN’s First Take:
.@MarkJackson13 on the Lakers' ceiling:
"Healthy, they can win a championship." 👀 pic.twitter.com/oQbHfyX84j
— First Take (@FirstTake) July 25, 2022
Jackson interviewed with the Lakers in May for their head coaching position. LeBron James reportedly would have been “very enthused” with Jackson being the Lakers’ head coach, but Darvin Ham eventually became the top man.
In Jackson’s 30-second argument, he includes two if’s that are as likely as Westbrook leading the league in deflections next season — staying healthy and competing on the defensive end.
Last season’s Lakers struggled mightily with both. L.A. was 23rd in overall defense last season, behind teams such as the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards. The Lakers courted 41 different starting lineups last year leading to struggles developing rhythm. Anthony Davis missing 42 games and LeBron missing 26 didn’t help the health either.
Jackson has a long history in the NBA. He played 20 years for seven teams, then made the move to ESPN as a color commentator. He briefly coached the Golden State Warriors from 2011 to 2014 before returning to ESPN.
He surely has a credible voice, but may be off with this take. If Jackson is a betting man, his belief in the Lakers could result in lots of dollars.
Rasheed Wallace will not join Darvin Ham’s coaching staff
After much speculation, Rasheed Wallace will not receive a seat on the Lakers bench as an assistant.
The NBA champion was an early candidate identified to be on Ham’s staff. The Athletic’s Shams Charania prematurely reported the Lakers and Wallace had agreed on a deal, but nothing actually came to fruition.
Wallace spent last season as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis.
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