Kim Klement/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Lakers have impressed so far in the free-agency period, which means the rest of the league will have some work to do if they are going to prevent them from repeating as NBA champions in 2021. The moves that have grabbed the most attention so far are the new faces joining the team, such as getting Dennis Schroder via a trade and signing Montrezl Harrell away from the the rival Clippers.
On Sunday, the Lakers made another signing official, bringing in shooting guard Wes Matthews on a one-year deal, per the Los Angeles Times‘ Brad Turner:
Brad Turner @BA_Turner
Lakers make Wesley Matthews signing official. https://t.co/LYIOurUOcU
The press release that Turner posted doesn’t mention the terms of the deal, but The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Friday that it’s believed to be a one-year deal worth $3.6 million. Matthews is 34-years-old and is entering his 12th season as a pro. He played last season with Milwaukee, averaging 7.4 points in 24.4 minutes per game. He has never shot worse than 36 percent from three-point range in his career, and has started nearly every game he’s played in. His presence will help make up for the loss of Danny Green, who was included in the trade that brought Schroder to Los Angeles.
Lakers Bring Back KCP
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press
It’s not only new faces that are making Lakers fans very happy this offseason. General manager Rob Pelinka built upon his impressive offseason by bringing back a familiar face. According to Charania, shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will stay in Los Angeles on a three-year, $40 million deal.
Caldwell-Pope is another client of super agent Rich Paul, who also represents Harrell and LeBron James (among many others). The 27-year-old has endeared himself to Lakers fans over the past three seasons with his clutch shooting and energy off the bench. He was fourth on the team in scoring last year with 9.3 points per game, while shooting a career-best 38.5 percent from beyond the arc.
During the Lakers championship run in the Orlando bubble, KCP helped carry the team through barren stretches when James or Anthony Davis were on the bench and the offense lacked rhythm. He’s a useful player who works hard on defense and doesn’t need to see the ball much to generate offense.
Retaining Caldwell-Pope’s services means there won’t be a complete overhaul of the Lakers backcourt. Green, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook and Green won’t be suiting up for the purple and gold next year for one reason or another. Holding onto Caldwell-Pope means the Lakers will have a steady, veteran presence out on the wing who is well-acquainted with coach Frank Vogel’s system.
Rondo Bids Farewell
Speaking of Rondo, he has officially said goodbye to the Lakers faithful. He put out an Instagram post on Saturday, thanking the Lakers organization and its fans, and finishing the statement by writing “Now, what’s next…”
NBA on ESPN shared the full text of the post on Twitter:
NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA
Rajon Rondo thanks LA 👏🏆 https://t.co/FcHERZwuVC
While it hasn’t been confirmed by an agent, Rondo is reportedly going to join the Atlanta Hawks on a two-year, $15 million deal, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. The 34-year-old was the chief playmaker for the Lakers when James was not in his point-forward role. He was a calming and creative presence during the team’s playoff run after returning from injury.
The Lakers will be counting on Schroder, who is seven years younger than Rondo, to replace his production at the point-guard position.