Before LeBron James arrived, the Los Angeles Lakers were going through a rebuilding process, piling up high draft picks trying to create a competitive team again. From 2013 through 2018, they were wandering, trying to find a good version of themselves. They had plenty of young players who were eventually traded to other squads to make room for others. That’s how the Lakers let some good players go, but it’s not like they’re lamenting that.
Flash forward to 2020, we know that most of the players that left the Lakers have signed major deals with their new teams. Brandon Ingram became the latest name to join the list after signing a 5-year, $158 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. Ingram was part of the package that the Lakers sent to New Orleans in exchange for Anthony Davis.
D’Angelo Russell also inked a juicy deal last year with the Golden State Warriors. He became an All-Star on the Brooklyn Nets and the Dubs didn’t hesitate to land him after Kevin Durant left, precisely to Brooklyn. Russell signed a 4-year, $117 million contract with Golden State before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the trade deadline.
Last year, in one of the most disastrous free agency for the New York Knicks, they piled up a lot of power forwards after failing to land superstars like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving. Randle was offered a 3-year, $63 million deal with the Knickerbockers, his current team.
Jordan Clarkson was the last former Lakers player to agree to a major extension before Brandon Ingram. The Utah Jazz agreed to a 4-year, $52 million deal with the guard, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018.
Alongside Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. was shipped to Cleveland two years ago in the trade that sent Isiah Thomas to Los Angeles. Larry proved to be a valuable asset for the Cavs, who didn’t hesitate to offer him a 4-year, $44 million deal in 2018.
All these players have shown that they are worthy of big money, something that wasn’t clear with the Lakers. Now Lonzo Ball is trying to get the bag with the New Orleans Pelicans but nothing is certain for him. Kyle Kuzma, who was seen as an important part of the Lakers’ future is still waiting to get that offer and Lakers fans don’t want him to stay around after his 2019/20 season.
Well, all the other guys have signed very good contracts and their future looks good (some more than others). The Lakers are champions again and it doesn’t seem like they’re too worried about all these pieces.