While not the Kawhi Leonard signing that Lakers fans were hoping for, the Lakers added free agent Jared Dudley on a one year deal to help bolster their frontcourt as they continue to chase Leonard. Dudley is a 12-year veteran and brings the ability to play quality defense while knocking down the occasional deep ball.
Dudley is a journeyman player who made a bit of a name for himself last postseason with his tenacious guarding of Ben Simmons and instigating a fight that got both him and Jimmy Butler tossed from a game. While the Nets would go on to lose the series, Dudley proved to be a valuable pest against elite opposing offenses.
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Lakers Sign Jared Dudley In Free Agency, Bolster Frontcourt Depth
By bringing Dudley on at a veteran minimum, the Lakers once again avoid incurring any penalty against the cap that would limit their ability to go after the only remaining max free agent, Leonard. Given the wave of free agents that quickly went off the board at the start of free agency, the Lakers are wise to try adding players on minimum salaries now before all viable players get scooped up.
A whopping 48 players went off the board on the first day of free agency alone and while almost half the league hit the open market this summer, the number of quality contributors is rapidly diminishing. However, the Lakers are limited as their pursuit of Leonard holds them to only being able to offer players veteran minimum salaries so as to not impact their max cap slot.
Lakers Remaining Free Agency Targets
The Lakers addressed some of their shooting and defensive needs on the wing by bringing on Dudley but still need to find themselves a starting point guard as well as a capable big man. Despite Davis’ ability to play center, he thrives with a true big man next to him and his skills as a shot creator and defensive wizard shine when allowed to match up with smaller power forwards away from the hoop.
Rajon Rondo remains one of the prime targets for the Lakers in the point guard department moving forward and given the generous contract the Lakers shelled out his way last summer, could be willing to run things back on a much cheaper deal.
DeMarcus Cousins is another potential option for the Lakers on a one-year deal as reports indicate that his market is almost non-existent and that he could be had on an extremely team-friendly contract. While his skill set is far beyond the reported less than mid-level exception teams are willing to offer, his playoff quad injury severely hurt his free agency value and taking a gamble on the extremely talented big man on such a cheap deal wouldn’t be the worst idea for the Lakers.