The Los Angeles Lakers Make Big Moves During Free-Agency, But Will They Suffice?

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It is no secret that the Lakers fell short of their desired end goal this past NBA postseason run. Despite a rough conference finals series loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers took many by surprise as the team that started off 2-10 became a well-rounded roster with solid depth by the trade deadline. While their conference finals loss disappointed the organization and fans, the team has taken steps to fortify its spot in the western conference as a championship-winning team. This offseason has been a busy, extremely successful one for the Lakers, as they have made numerous free-agency pickups to improve the roster and further increase its depth.

The Lakers made it a point to bring back key pieces to their success this past season, with arguably the most important re-signing belonging to Austin Reaves, a staple in the team’s offense. Reaves averaged 13 points per game in the regular season while shooting 52.9% from the field, and 39.8% from behind the arc. In addition to this, he provided the team with 3 rebounds per game, 3.4 assists per game, and 0.5 steals per game. When it came time for the playoffs, Reaves shocked everyone with extremely impressive performances, raising his points per game average to 16.9 on 46.4% shooting from the field and 44.3% from behind the arc. On top of increasing his points per game, Reaves also increased the following stats: 4.4 rebounds per game, 4.6 assists per game, and 0.6 steals per game. Austin Reaves solidified his spot as an integral piece of the Lakers roster, earning himself an impressive 4-year $56 million contract to return to the team. 

The next big re-signing for the team belonged to guard D’Angelo Russell, who re-joined the Lakers’ roster via trade this past season. This trade provided the Lakers with an additional and much-needed scoring option, as Russell averaged 17.4 points per game shooting 48.4% from the field and 41.4% from behind the arch during the regular season. During the playoffs, Russell’s averages dropped, as he put up 13.3 points per game and 4.6 assists per game while shooting 42.6% from the field and 31% from behind the arc. Despite what some would call a poor performance on his behalf during the postseason, D’Angelo Russell’s overall positive impact on the team landed him a 2-year $37 million contract to return next season. 

The final re-signing for the team belonged to forward Rui Hachimura, who joined the Lakers’ roster via trade this past season as well. Hachimura averaged 9.6 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game while shooting 48.5% from the field and 29.6% from behind the arc during the regular season. While solid off the bench, his presence was most felt during his impressive outings throughout the postseason. Hachimura averaged 12.2 points per game, increasing his efficiency greatly to 55.7% from the field and 48.7% from behind the arc. His impact was felt on both sides of the floor, landing the 2-way forward a 3-year $51 million contract to return to the team next season, and hopefully grow even more into a successor for LeBron James. 

Along with these three crucial re-signings, the Lakers brought in talent from elsewhere with multiple free-agency signings. One of the major signings the Lakers made was with guard Gabe Vincent, who came off of an amazing postseason run with the Miami Heat. While his regular season stats don’t stand out much, Vincent brought the Heat 12.7 points per game, 3.5 assists per game, 1.4 rebounds per game, and 0.9 steals per game all while shooting 40.2% from the field, and 37.8% from behind the arc. The undrafted guard’s standout performance this postseason landed him a 3-year $33 million contract with the Lakers, who are hoping to utilize him to the fullest. On top of increasing their backcourt depth, the Lakers signed the following players to significantly improve and increase their frontcourt depth: Taurean Prince (9.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.6 apg)* – 1-year $4.5 million contract, Cam Reddish (9.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg)* – 2-year league minimum, and Jaxson Hayes (5.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.7 apg)* – 2-year $4.6 million contract.

*Regular season stats were reported for each player*

Overall, the Lakers have been winning this offseason, wasting no time in ensuring that come the 2023-2024 NBA postseason they are celebrating rather than heading home. It is important to keep in mind that the free-agency period isn’t over yet, leaving the Lakers with plenty of time to add more pieces to the team and create an extremely talented and deadly squad. While the pickup of the extremely athletic 6’11 Jaxson Hayes will help flesh out the gap in bigs, the Lakers should still look to further improve upon their depth at the center position. 

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