The Los Angeles Lakers finished the 2013-14 NBA regular season with an abysmal 27-55 record, but the franchise has spent the entire offseason making smart moves like re-signing Nick Young and Ryan Kelly.
Los Angeles announced the deals on its official website Monday.
After watching Pau Gasol leave via free agency and missing out on top free agents like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the Lakers are making the necessary moves to bolster the depth and ensure a talented cast around Kobe Bryant.
Here is why Los Angeles was smart to re-sign Young and Kelly.
Why Re-Signing Nick Young Was Smart
Wesley Johnson is a talented young player with plenty of upside, but the only true star at the small forward position on the roster last season was Nick Young.
The 29-year-old Southern California native has flourished with Los Angeles since signing with the team in 2013. He racked up 17.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in his first season with the Lakers and should do even better with the return of Kobe Bryant.
Los Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak released a statement, via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, regarding the new deal with Young and what he brings to the team:
When Nick became a free agent in June, I expressed hope that we would be able to bring him back on a contract that was in the best interest of both the Lakers and himself, and I am proud to say we were able to do so. Nick was a bright spot for us last season, and we are happy to retain such a skilled player who is committed to being a part of what we are building as a franchise.
Young spent the early years of his career being underutilized by the Washington Wizards before being moved to the Los Angeles Clippers and signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. Most players are looking for stability in their careers, and Young now has that with the Lakers.
With a new cast of characters to help alleviate the pressure on veterans like Bryant and point guard Steve Nash, Young will play alongside new acquisition Carlos Boozer and take advantage of the offensive openings he is afforded.
Young will have the chance to blossom into a star this season with Los Angeles.
Why Re-Signing Ryan Kelly Was Smart
Re-signing Young was a no-brainer due to his offensive production, but the most underrated move of the week for the Lakers was locking up second-year power forward Ryan Kelly.
The departure of Gasol left a major void at the PF position. While adding Boozer was a great start, Los Angeles needs depth and size in the low post. At 6’11” and 230 pounds, Kelly could also slide to the center position to alleviate some of the pressure on Jordan Hill.
Kelly’s versatility and willingness to work made re-signing him the right move.
After signing his new deal, Kelly took to Twitter to share his feelings:
The official Twitter account of Duke Basketball piggybacked off a tweet from ESPN’s Marc Stein congratulating Kelly and revealing the fiscal details of his contract:
There is no questioning the size and defensive skill he brings off the bench, but Kelly also managed to add eight points and 3.7 rebounds in only 22 minutes per game last season. With even more potential to grow, the 23-year-old could develop into a key piece of L.A.’s future.
The key will be playing time and utilizing his chances once he hits the court. The power forward position has plenty of competition with Boozer, Julius Randle and Ed Davis, and Kelly must take advantage when given the time to play at either forward or center.
As one of the smartest players on the team, Kelly must continue to embrace his size to become a more effective rebounder and a more dominant offensive threat. If he continues to improve this season, the Lakers won’t miss Gasol in the low post at all.
*Stats via NBA.com.
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