When it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers, anything but the splash move is considered a failure. Fans, and even the media it seems, are quick to cut down moves that don’t move the needle in terms of star power.
So, naturally, when the Lakers acquired forward Carlos Boozer off amnesty waivers, it was seen through the lens that the Lakers had to “settle” for a player of Boozer’s caliber, rather than taking a look at what he brings to the table at a sub-$4 million salary (and never mind the signing of Ed Davis).
While the Lakers no doubt wanted to land top-tier names, bright stars, and make splashy moves this offseason, the truth of the matter is that it does not always work out, even when you’re a glamour franchise. The reasons why are varied (and very well could be its own series of columns), but when it comes down to it sometimes the best way to improve is depth and young talent.
The Lakers added both of those this offseason. Most notably in their log-jammed frontcourt.
While there is no way to truly project how things will play out over the course of an 82-game season, especially with the team still looking for a head coach, there is little doubt that this is a good problem to have for Los Angeles, and it lends itself to an improved bench heading into the new campaign.
While there is no elite option, (even an unanimously “really good” one), the frontcourt has four solid options, and two who could develop into contributors.
With two legit power forwards (Boozer, Julius Randle) and two guys who can player center at a decent level (Jordan Hill, Ed Davis) the Lakers are better off than they were at the position last season; even considering Pau Gasol‘s presence in the last go-around.
Robert Sacre is still big, and Ryan Kelly can still space the floor. These guys are not big time contributors, but they will have their moments to come in a fill a role for the team. The fact that they are on short-term, affordable contracts fits into the overall plan for the franchise make them good fits, despite the fact they could be on the outside looking in when the season starts, at least in terms of the rotation.
Boozer and Randle are a good one-two punch. You know what you’re getting in Boozer; a guy who can average 15 and 10 while looking indifferent on the defensive end. Bringing in a piece like that, who allows the pressure to be taken off a kid like Randle, makes all the sense in the world.
Speaking of Randle, he will eventually make all of the talk of a crowded frontcourt irrelevant. He’s going to be good, and I think he could be the best big guy on the roster by the end of the season.
Jordan Hill is overpaid; that much is true. However, he is a solid contributor (not a great defender, but he can rebound well) and his huge, expiring salary will be a great trade chip in the next season.
In terms of on-court value, he can play center, he is young, and he doesn’t have to do it all by himself.
The Lakers signed Ed Davis to a team-friendly deal this offseason as well. Davis can protect the rim, rebound and score at a starting level in the league. Adding him to a tandem of Hill and Sacre again improve the roster from last year’s debacle.
So the Lakers did not land Carmelo Anthony, they didn’t get Chris Bosh, and Dirk Nowitzki didn’t even listen to their offers (no, seriously, they tried). However, they did begin to build depth, and they added some legitimate young talent.
Those hoping for a splash, those hoping for a quick turnaround from a team barren with talent, and those who believe in miracles are quite disappointed at the offseason the Lakers had, and upset with the “crowded” frontcourt they have created.
Everybody else should be happy with it, because it means improvement is on the way.