Training camp has arrived for the Los Angeles Lakers and we’re starting to get more insight into why the team made the decisions it did in the offseason. One of the more surprising developments was the decision to not bring veteran forward Jared Dudley back. He had previously stated that he wanted to play one more season with the team but ended up taking a coaching job with the Dallas Mavericks.
He later stated that he still wanted to play with the team but the feeling wasn’t mutual. That seemed a bit surprising considering the relationship that he had with the Lakers’ players, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, the decision could’ve been out of the front office’s hands. According to a report from The Athletic, owner Jeanie Buss was a primary reason Dudley isn’t back:
In the midst of this flurry of changes, the Lakers also declined to retain another constant: Dudley, who had been a presence in the Lakers recruiting efforts.
He was not offered a contract to be a part of the team and the move had everything to do with the pressure applied to the front office by Buss. Each and every roster spot needed to be filled by players who could help on the floor, especially during another season impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Every personnel choice, it seemed, would be made with the shared goal of surrounding James, Davis and Westbrook with talent that could truly help with the latest title contention. And not only was Dudley 36, but also he had been unable to help when it mattered most last season after tearing his medial collateral ligament in mid-March.
At the end of the season, sources said, the Lakers did have conversations with Dudley about other potential roles in the organization, including broadcasting, but ultimately he opted for a front-of-the-bench coaching position with Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks.
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Will Lakers Regret Not Bringing Dudley Back?
While Dudley’s days as a rotational player on the court were long in the past, there’s no doubt he was a great teammate. In fact, former Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said he was the best teammate he ever had.
What Dudley couldn’t provide on the court, he made it up with leadership and basketball knowledge. However, that was more valuable when the Lakers still had young players like Kuzma. The team decided to bring in a lot of veterans this offseason. That made having a player like Dudley less valuable. He was a fan and team favorite but there wasn’t much that he could bring to the Lakers this year that other players couldn’t.
Dudley as a Broadcaster Could’ve Made Sense
One thing that is lost in the report from The Athletic is that the Lakers wanted Dudley in a broadcasting role. That would’ve been a natural fit as the former forward was always one of the loudest and most charismatic players on the team. He could’ve thrived in that space.
That said, broadcasting jobs open up all the time but front-of-the-bench coaching opportunities for guys with no experience are hard to come by. He’ll have a big role on Jason Kidd’s staff and it’s easy to see why he’d prefer that opportunity. The Lakers wouldn’t have been able to give him that important of a coaching position.