When free agency opened up at the end of June, many fans of the Los Angeles Lakers were dreaming of the team turning Russell Westbrook into Kyrie Irving and becoming championship contenders again.
But it hasn’t happened, at least not yet.
Los Angeles has been limited to some minor free agent signings, some of which are promising, some of which have been underwhelming.
The acquisition of Lonnie Walker IV, an athletic 6-foot-4 shooting guard, made many scratch their heads, as he is thought to have potential but hasn’t panned out.
Multiple outlets have graded the Lakers on their offseason so far, and their reviews are a mixed bag.
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports: C
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports:
“Everything changes if the Lakers end up with Kyrie Irving, but nobody on Earth can predict how that will play out, including Irving himself. As it stands, the Lakers had a clear intention of getting younger this offseason, which they certainly did with their free agent additions. The problem is there still isn’t much shooting around LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, which was one of their key issues last season — and now they don’t have Monk, whose price was too high for ownership to justify. The defense is slightly better on paper, but none of the acquisitions are stoppers by any means. Christie is a nice player, but is probably too far away to help a team with championship aspirations. Irving would solve a lot, but as of now things don’t look great for L.A. Grade: C”
Kevin Pelton, ESPN: B-
Kevin Pelton, ESPN:
“After disappointing results from their fleet of veteran minimum signings last summer, the Lakers wisely pivoted toward younger options in free agency this time around. None of the players they’ve added to their roster is older than 29. For minimum pickups, I particularly like bringing in Troy Brown Jr. as a player with upside and Juan Toscano-Anderson for his passing and defensive versatility.
“On the downside, the Lakers didn’t add a single reliable two-way contributor to fill their biggest need. The Lakers used their taxpayer midlevel to add Lonnie Walker IV, who shot just 31% from 3-point range last season (34% for his career). And even if Walker takes a step forward, as with Malik Monk, the Lakers may be hard-pressed to keep him beyond this season using non-Bird rights.”
Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report: C-
Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report:
“Kyrie Irving may wind up being the Lakers’ biggest offseason addition. If he were to arrive as Russell Westbrook departs, Los Angeles would be in for a major bump up the grade scale. As unreliable and flighty as Irving has been, his shooting and playmaking could help the Lakers. Westbrook proved last season that he isn’t changing his game or adding new wrinkles, and therefore can’t be of much assistance to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“Walker is a good get as a second-draft talent, a brilliant open-floor athlete who may only be a reliable jump shot away from deserving rotation minutes on a good team. Still just 23, the 6’4” guard averaged double-figure scoring in each of the last two seasons, even as his three-point shooting cratered to a career-worst 31.4 percent in 2021-22. If Walker can merely replicate the 35.5 percent he hit from deep two years ago, he could even end up starting.
“Toscano Anderson, Brown and Jones are all end-of-bench options with diverse skills. JTA is a five-position defender who can pass and push the ball in transition, Brown rebounds his position exceptionally well, and Jones is a useful catch-and-dunk third big whose defensive awareness has improved considerably from his clueless first years with the Warriors.
“Losing Monk’s shooting isn’t ideal for a Lakers team that was short on spacing to begin with, and it’s difficult to argue any of the offseason additions will help produce more wins than Monk did. As it stands, the Lakers are no closer to climbing into the playoff race than they were when last season ended.”
Note: This analysis was given shortly before the Lakers signed center Thomas Bryant.
Bryan Kalbrosky, For The Win: C-
Bryan Kalbrosky, For The Win:
“Especially compared to last year, Lakers executive Rob Pelinka had a much better offseason. He targeted younger players like Lonnie Walker and Troy Brown rather than older players like Carmelo Anthony and Avery Bradley.
“Their addition of Thomas Bryant may be my favorite summer transaction. But with Russell Westbrook still in the mix, I don’t see this team contending for a title next season. Without a big move, they could waste another year for LeBron James and potentially risk losing him in free agency.
Jovan Buha, The Athletic: Incomplete
Jovan Buha, The Athletic:
“The Lakers’ grade is incomplete until there is clarity on Russell Westbrook’s future. The party line has been maintaining that Westbrook will return and conform to Darvin Ham’s vision for his role as a defense-first guard who is active off the ball. But the Lakers have notably engaged in trade discussions with the Nets and Pacers, among other teams, about Westbrook.
“Westbrook’s split with his agent, Thad Foucher, also indicates that Westbrook has never been interested in embracing a different — and likely smaller — role in Los Angeles. If the Lakers are done making moves, and Westbrook is going to remain on the roster, then they’d get a C+ grade for extracting solid value with their limited spending power in free agency but ultimately failing to address the roster’s two biggest issues (3-point shooting and Westbrook’s awkward fit as a third star).”
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire