Freeman Cebu Sports

Players LAL gave up on

NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus - The Freeman

The Los Angeles Lakers, valued at $6.44 billion with 17 NBA titles, attract players who want to wear purple and gold because of their popularity and proximity to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood.   They have the reputation of getting big name stars, but they need a strong support crew to go all the way to the title.

For the past few years, things had not been great, mostly because the Lakers gave up early on players who could have helped them win some trophies had they been more patient with them.  Management, intending to save money, mishandled personnel around their superstars.

JULIUS RANDLE – In 2014, the Lakers missed the postseason for the first time since 2005.  That year, they drafted Julius Randle but broke he his leg in his rookie debut, ending his season.   Returning from injury, he steadily improved but they let him go in free agency.  Long story short, Randle had become a 2-time All-Star and prior to the arrival of Jalen Brunson, is the New York Knicks’ leading scorer.

LARRY NANCE, JR. and JORDAN CLARKSON - At the end of the trading deadline in 2018, the Lakers packaged both to Cleveland in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and one first round pick.  The two vets only played a combined 26 games and the first-round pick, Moritz Wagner, was a bust.  They got nothing in exchange for quality role players.  In July, LAL got Lebron from free agency.  Imagine if both were still with the Lakers.

Nance, Jr. is an important rotation player for the New Orléans Pelicans while Clarkson, currently on the injured list, is contributing a solid per game averages of 17 points and 5 assist for Utah.

IVICA ZUBAC – Drafted in 2016, the Croatian 7-footer, in a salary dump, was dealt to the LA Clippers in 2019 for Mike Muscala who only played less than 20 games.  Zubac meanwhile is a consistent double-double machine.  Today, the Lakers have a problem in the middle and they won’t be struggling with a productive big man backing up Anthony Davis had they retained Zu.

ALEX CARUSO – In another money saving move, the Lakers dealt Caruso to Chicago, opting to retain Talen Horton-Tucker.  They had overlooked Caruso’s defensive capabilities as with the Bulls, the Bald Eagle set career highs in minutes, highlighting his defensive and playmaking abilities.   THT meanwhile was dealt to Utah after one season.

BROOK LOPEZ – This is another big man that the Lakers gave up on in 2018.  Lopez only played in LA for a season because he was not happy with his playing time.   He signed a deal with Milwaukee where he helped them win the 2021 championships.   Had the Lakers placed a premium on his perimeter defense and floor spacing, Lopez could have played with LeBron and Anthony Davis and they would be title contenders every year.

Christian Wood is still out with a knee injury and there’s no timeline for his return.  Jaxson Hayes is serviceable, but the Lakers badly need a strong backup 5 to AD.   Jared Vanderbilt, their best defensive option, is still out with a foot injury

The back-to-back losses to Sacramento and Golden State pulled the Lakers further down and with 14 games left in their schedule (as of this writing),  things don’t look good.

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