In what has been likely the craziest summer in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers were initially quiet.
As the Lakers waited on Kawhi Leonard’s decision, they signed just two players — Troy Daniels and Jared Dudley to minimum deals in an effort to preserve a max-contract slot, hoping for Leonard to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Dudley signing has been almost universally praised by Lakers fans and the media due to his important role as a veteran leader for the 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets team. And Dudley, who is from San Diego and grew up a Lakers fan, called it a dream to suit up for the purple and gold.
However, in the process of choosing the Lakers, Dudley wanted to make sure he got the approval of the team’s leader in James. It’s something Dudley felt was very important due to his status as a role player, according to “The Woj Pod” by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
“For one, you want LeBron to have to sign off on it. You want LeBron to want to play with you. You know, I’m not an All-Star player, but I am a part of the team. You can ask any player, Giannis, Devin Booker, John Wall, when it comes to a locker room, I control the locker room. That’s something I knew I could help with here. So yeah, there’s communication there. So once I got the okay from LeBron, when he signed off on it, it was like, ‘hey, we’re going to make it happen.’”
It’s often been said of James-led teams that he is in charge of — or at least plays a huge role in — making roster decisions alongside the front office. And while that isn’t necessarily true, it can’t be a negative thing to know that James is signing off on the players that eventually play for the team.
Dudley is a very coveted role player around the NBA, due to his locker room presence and on-court spacing. This means that it was likely a very simple conversation with James to ‘get his approval.’
It’s also nice to know that players want to play with James, Davis, and the Lakers — even willing to take less money to do so.