The free NBA 2019 agency did not work as planned by the Los Angeles Lakers, but things may have gone well for them.
It's easy to forget that we live in a world where LeBron James and Anthony Davis are teammates and that Lonzo Ball trading, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a plethora of draft picks was not exactly the A plan for the Lakers.
The initial goal was to use their maximum space to sign a second star player for James, which would not have forced the Lakers to sacrifice much of their young core. When Davis came to the market, he did everything he could to convince him to convince Kawhi Leonard to leave the Toronto Raptors and train what would probably be the most talented Big 3 ever assembled. .
Once Leonard made the decision to go to the Los Angeles Clippers to play with Paul George, the Lakers – despite the shock and disappointment – were ready.
Leonard's decision was a puzzle. The Lakers offering him a potential dynasty should have been an easy choice, but Los Angeles left nothing to chance and was allowed to work by spending its $ 32 million cap.
Danny Green had hesitated to make his own decision as a standalone agent, in anticipation of Leonard's domino's downfall. As soon as Leonard chose a team that was not the Lakers, Green immediately posted a video on the Twitter account "Inside The Green Room," announcing that he was accepting a two-year Lakers contract.
Clearly, the Lakers had Green in their back pocket in case Leonard went elsewhere, even as the Dallas Mavericks urged him to make a decision as soon as possible. Green believed that the Mavericks were a few years away from the quarrel and therefore preferred to accept the Lakers offer assuming that Leonard did not sign there and did not nibble his cap.
While this $ 30 million two-year deal may seem like a lot to a player who has scored just 10.3 points per game in the 2018-19 NBA season, Green is a darling of the analysis whose combination of high-level defense and floor spacing brought him to be the league's best goalkeeper in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus. For a Lakers team needing defense and shooting alongside James and Davis, they just had to have Green if Leonard rejected them, and the Lakers were in perfect control of the situation.
The Lakers were not there to bring back Jaale McGee, who had instant chemistry with James last season. On average, nearly half of James's assistants last season were awarded to Kyle Kuzma or McGee and the Lakers managed to keep both. McGee's deal is for a two-year term, or $ 8 million with a second-year player option, which is below the market value of a center of its caliber.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was also renewed under a two-year, $ 16 million contract, which was not a good deal but suited contemporaries like Seth Curry and Rodney Hood. have received. According to Synergy, Caldwell-Pope is ranked in the 81st percentile as a sniper and should see more opportunities than ever before with James and Davis attracting so much attention.
Quinn Cook, who shot 42% of the three-point line last season for the Golden State Warriors, was recruited for a $ 6 million contract over two years and Rajon Rondo also returned for a two-year minimum contract . The rotation of the leaders was completed by Alex Caruso, a history of well-being that has not changed and rose through the ranks in the G-League for three years, until he got a place in the team alignment. If the improved shots posted by Caruso (unsustainable at 48% of the three-point line) continue next season, he could push both Cook and Rondo for a few minutes.
Although all these steps had their own merit, the real bomb was unleashed when it was announced that the Lakers had landed DeMarcus Cousins for a frightfully low contract of one year, $ 3.5 million. Before having been a victim of an Achilles tear during the 2017-2018 season with New Orleans pelicans, Cousins was one of the biggest players in the league and a major asset. He had a quad injury that knocked him out for much of the NBA's 2019 playoffs for the Warriors, but though he's in good health, the trio consisted of Davis, Cousins, and McGee. should give them an edge over the paint compared to most clubs.
The team gave up its A plan when Davis came on the market and Plan B became a decision when Leonard decided that a potential dynasty was not his style. It was definitely a blow to their mythos, as All-Star players are expected to flock to Los Angeles as the Capistrano Salmon.
It remains to recognize the relative success of the team. After months of negative press that characterized them as a swamp of incompetence fueled by nepotism, they managed to rotate after vanishing on Leonard – which could have been a lethal wound – and found ways to continue forming a team that should be on paper a competitor.
The Lakers have been criticized for their injuries and malfunctions, but there is also a need to report on them.