Lakers’ ‘Very Stubborn’ Move on 39% Shooter Tabbed ‘Biggest Regret’

Lakers coach Darvin Ham

Getty Lakers coach Darvin Ham

One of the frustrating aspects of the Lakers’ disappointing season—even with a playoff spot secured following Tuesday’s play-in win over New Orleans—is the relentless sense that the team has gotten itself into a decidedly unfavorable situation not because they lacked talent, but only because they lacked flexibility in how they handled the talent they had on hand.

There is no greater case in point for that than the way that the team approached Cam Reddish, the bargain forward signed to a two-year, $4.6 million contract this offseason. Reddish closed the season with 5.4 points per game on 38.9% shooting in 20. 5 minutes, the kind of stats expected from a deep rotation player.

But it’s easy to forget that Reddish was a Lakers starter for the first three months of the season, and the Lakers were 19-21 when they finally pulled him from the lineup and, effectively, from the rotation. Keeping Reddish among the first five was noted at Bleacher Report as the “biggest regret” the Lakers have in 2023-24, in an article this week appropriately titled, “Every NBA Team’s Biggest Regret This Season.”

Pulling Cam Reddish From Rotation Sparked Surge

In the article, analyst Grant Hughes wrote that when the decision was made to yank Reddish: “The Lakers were 19-21 with a minus-0.9 net rating overall and a minus-2.0 with the 24-year-old on the floor. Remember, that number came with him playing mostly alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“Since then, with Reddish missing time due to injury and playing a drastically reduced role when healthy, the Lakers went 28-14 and posted a plus-2.8 net rating. Rui Hachimura, who eventually took over for Reddish in the first unit, has been a two-way key to L.A.’s second-half surge.”

It was, indeed, odd that Lakers coach Darvin Ham insisted on sticking with Reddish even as the team played better without him. He is a solid defender but not much of an offensive threat, and his presence gummed up the works for L.A.

“It was always a little strange that they stuck with him, even to the point of it being stubborn for Darvin to keep running him out there,” one Western Conference assistant coach said. “It’s a situation where it was almost like the front office was set on giving him a half season and then deciding to make the change. Someone was being very stubborn with it. Because once the decision was made to pull him, that was it—he got hurt, and he did not come back.”

Lakers Ready for Nuggets Showdown

A strong second half and a reconfigured Lakers rotation is among the big positives the team can carry into its playoff rematch against the Nuggets, the No. 2 seed in the West. The Lakers played the Nuggets in the postseason last year, and lost badly—they were swept—in the conference finals.

The Nuggets went on to win the NBA championship. It’s not going to be an easy go-round this time, either.

“It’s the defending champion,” James said. “They know what it takes. They know how to win. They’ve been extremely dominant on their home floor over the last few years. They’ve got an MVP on their team. They’ve got a closer on their team. They’ve got high-level players, high-IQ players. And they’ve got a hell of a coach.

“So, we have to play mistake-free basketball. Make it tough on them. They’re going to try to make it tough on us, obviously. But if we can play as great of a game as we can play, and they’re going to play as great of a game as they play, it’s going come down to one or two possessions. And we’ll see who executes then.”

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