Lakers Were Interested in Signing 25-Year-Old NBA Champion: Report

Lakers' Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham

Getty Lakers' Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham

The Los Angeles Lakers were interested in signing a 25-year-old NBA champion this summer in unrestricted free agency. However, they wound up not adding the player due to injury concerns.

According to a July 11 report from Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, members of the Lakers talked about possibly signing Donte DiVincenzo. However, since the Villanova product has been prone to injuries over the last two years, Los Angeles passed on him.

DiVincenzo, who won the 2021 championship with the Milwaukee Bucks, signed with the Golden State Warriors on a two-year, $9.3 million contract. The deal includes a player option for the second year.

“Another league insider pointed to the lack of shooting, in general, in this free-agency class within the team’s price range,” Woike wrote. “Guard Donte DiVincenzo, who has only a slightly better career three-point percentage than (Lonnie) Walker, was considered but eventually bypassed because of injury concerns. He signed with the Golden State Warriors for $4.5 million.”

DiVincenzo missed most of the Bucks’ 2021 championship run with an ankle injury. He suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle on May 27, 2021, against the Miami Heat and underwent surgery on June 8, 2021.

A Deleware native, DiVincenzo played in 42 games with the Bucks and Sacramento Kings last season, averaging 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting 35.1% from the field, 33.9% from beyond the arc and 84.3% from the free-throw line. The most games he’s played in a season are 66.

Lakers Used Cap Space on Multiple Players

The Lakers used their available cap space on multiple players. They signed Juan Toscano-Anderson, Troy Brown Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant.

According to Woike, “the general sense among scouts and league executives is that the Lakers, thus far, have done fine in free agency considering their constraints.”

“One former NBA head coach said that he thought Walker could be an explosive scorer off the bench for the Lakers, replacing some of the production the team got from Malik Monk last year,” Woike reported. “The Lakers have gotten high marks around the league for getting Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant to sign minimum deals to play center. An insider who worked with Jones last season in Sacramento said he viewed him as an improving player despite being a six-season veteran. Bryant’s offensive value alongside a healthy Davis should give the Lakers a little spacing with plenty of upside coming off of a serious knee injury two seasons ago.

“Similarly, Juan Toscano-Anderson’s toughness and attitude have tremendous support in league circles, though some worry about diminishing athleticism. Still, as a willing defender, they viewed the signing positively. Troy Brown Jr. has gotten some mixed reviews from scouts and executives, with the concerns centered around his readiness for a large role, especially on a team with high expectations. Brown did shoot close to 38% from three-point range after Christmas last season and his fans believe he’s the type of player who can help a team win because of his versatility.”

The Lakers’ roster is currently made up of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson, Wenyen Gabriel, Max Christie, Toscano-Anderson, Brown Jr., Walker IV, Jones and Bryant.

Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider signed two-way contracts with the purple and gold.

Darvin Ham: ‘We Love Everyone on Our Roster’

New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham told Dave McMenamin of ESPN on July 8 that he loves everyone on his roster. Ham’s comments came on the same night James and Westbrook were at the Lakers’ Summer League game in Las Vegas. The two All-Stars didn’t sit next to each other or say hello.

“We love everyone on our roster,” Ham said. “And until you’re not on our roster, you’re ours and we’re going to try to get better with the group that we have. That’s just the bottom line of it. I don’t know a player that’s come through this league in my 26 years that hasn’t had their name part of a trade rumor a time or two. But, it is what it is. It’s the nature of the beast of our business. And so, again, the guys we have on our roster I’m very thankful for, I’m proud of and we want to maximize everything they can do to help us get to that ultimate goal.”

Per McMenamin, the Lakers are engaged in trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers. Westbrook would be included in the Pacers or Nets deal. The nine-time All-Star and one-time MVP was second in the NBA in turnovers last season and his effective field goal percentage of 47.6% was sixth-worst in the league.

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