2019 NBA free agency did not go as the Los Angeles Lakers planned, but things may have worked for them anyway.
It is easy to forget now that we are living in a world where LeBron James and Anthony Davis are teammates and that trading with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and an abundance of drafts is not exactly Plan A for the Lakers .
The original goal was to use their cap space to sign another All-Star player for James, which would not have required the Lakers to sacrifice most of their young core. When Davis hit the market, the plan developed to do everything they could to land him, then use the lid for the James / Davis combo to convince Kawhi Leonard to leave the Toronto Raptors and form what would undoubtedly be most talented Big 3 ever gathered.
When Leonard decided to jump to the Los Angeles Clippers to play with Paul George, the Lakers ̵
Leonard's decision was a main scraper. The Lakers offering a potential dynasty to him should have been the easy choice, but Los Angeles left nothing random and got the right to work to spend their $ 32 million on the dome.
Danny Green had been making his own free agent decision, waiting for Leonard domino to fall. As soon as Leonard chose a team that was not the Lakers, Green immediately sent a video to the Twitter account "Inside The Green Room", which announced he accepted a two-year deal from the Lakers.
It was clear that the Lakers had Green in their back pocket as a readiness if Leonard went elsewhere – though the Dallas Mavericks shot him to make a decision rather than later. Green saw Mavericks as a couple of years away from battle and therefore preferred to take the Lakers offer, assuming that Leonard did not subscribe there and eat their entire cap room.
While the two-year $ 30 million deal may seem like a lot to a player who only scored 10.3 points per game. Play in the 2018-19 NBA season, Green is an analytics treasure whose combination of high-level defense and floor space made him the top shooter in the league in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus. For a Lakers team to defend and shoot with James and Davis, they simply had to have Green if Leonard spurned them, and the Lakers navigated perfectly.
The Lakers were not there to bring JaVale McGee back, who had immediate chemistry with James last season. On average, almost half of James last season helps either Kyle Kuzma or McGee, and the Lakers managed to keep both. McGee's deal is for two years, $ 8 million with a player option in the second year, which is below market value for a center of his caliber.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was also brought back on a two-year, $ 16 million deal, which was not a bargain, but coincided with what contemporary contenders such as Seth Curry and Rodney Hood received. Per Synergy, Caldwell-Pope classified in the 81st percentile as a spot-up shooter and should see more of these opportunities than ever before with James and Davis drawing so much attention.
Quinn Cook, who shot 42% from the three-point last season for the Golden State Warriors, was introduced on a two-year, $ 6 million deal, and Rajon Rondo also returned on a two-year minimum contract. Point vaginal rotation was rounded off with Alex Caruso, an emotional story that went undrafted and worked his way up the G-League for three years until he finally got a spot on the team's roster. If the much improved recording that Caruso showed (unsustainable 48% from the three-point line) continues in the next season, he could push both Cook and Rondo in minutes.
While all of these movements had their own profits, the real bombshell came when it was announced that the Lakers had landed DeMarcus Cousins for a shockingly low one-year, $ 3,500,000 deal. Before a demolished Achilles suffered in the 2017-2018 season with New Orleans Pelicans, cousins were one of the big big men in the league and a shoo-in for a maximum deal. He dealt with a quad injury that hit him too much of the 2019 NBA playoffs for Warriors, but if it was healthy, the trio of Davis, Cousins and McGee should give them an advantage in painting over most clubs.
The team left their Plan A when Davis hit the market and Plan B was captain when Leonard decided that a potential dynasty was not his style. It was undoubtedly a blow to their mythos when All Star players were to flock to Los Angeles as the Capistrano salmon.
Still, we must recognize the team's relative success. After months of negative press that preached them as a swamp of nepotism-burned incompetence, they successfully managed to turn from missing out on Leonard – which could have been a mortal wound – and found a way to still build a team that on paper should be a challenger.
The Lakers have earned lots of criticism lobbed on them for their self-inflicted wounds and dysfunction, but also credit must be given where it is due.