Even without someone calling the shots on the court, management has been making plenty of moves. Recent acquisitions include bringing back two players with a combined four years of experience with the franchise and a fresh new face with something to prove.
Despite a horrid 2013-14 season, the Lakers have brought back many of the same pieces. With Kobe Bryant set to return, there should be enough leadership to help the team return to prominence.
With the offseason still in full swing, here's a look at the latest signings by the Lakers.
Lakers Re-Sign Jordan Hill
Following his best statistical season in the NBA, Jordan Hill will don the purple and gold again this year.
The Lakers' official website reported the news after weeks of speculation that Hill would re-sign. In the report, general manager Mitch Kupchak provides his thoughts on Hill:
Jordan has been a consistent contributor for us over the last three seasons and we are pleased to keep him in the Laker family. Jordan’s frontcourt versatility is a benefit to our roster and his on-court work ethic is something we value on our team. We hope he’ll continue to work hard and develop as an NBA player
Last season, Hill emerged as a consistent contributor on the offensively challenged team. Playing in 72 games, Hill started in 32 and averaged 9.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
He also finished the season strong, averaging 16.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in April. Though Hill admitted he was winded with the minutes he earned, Mike Trudell of Lakers.com provides a telling quote from the big man:
Fatigue was an issue when he got big minutes, but Hill feels: "When I'm out there, I feel invincible, that I can overcome anything."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 17, 2014
Hill already has plenty of comfort with the Lakers organization, something rookie Julius Randle and Carlos Boozer don't have yet. His presence this season will be a welcome sight on the court, but his reported two-year, $18 million deal might be more lucrative than his production.
If he's able to play the center position again alongside any of the power forwards in the lineup, Hill should have opportunities to make a difference. If he can continue his production from the end of last season, Hill might emerge as more than just a role player.
Regardless of the money, the Lakers are smart to bring back a player already familiar with the franchise. Though they don't have a coach at this point, the product on the court continues to look familiar.
Ed Davis Adds Depth to Deep Forward Position
Los Angeles might have lost one former UNC player in Kendall Marshall, but it has now filled the quota again.
Ed Davis, a four-year veteran who has made stops with both the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies, is hoping to reinvigorate his career with the Lakers. Kupchak, a former UNC player himself, spoke about Davis during the official announcement:
Which deal was the best for the Lakers?
"Ed is a versatile, young frontcourt player who, if he continues to work hard, will be a valuable contributor," said Kupchak. "We look forward to him furthering his development with the Lakers and are excited by what we think he can offer our team."
The power forward has been a consistent role player throughout his career but saw his numbers dip last season with the Grizzlies. Davis' 5.7 points and 4.1 rebounds were both career lows for an entire season while averaging just 15.2 minutes off the bench.
While the power forward position is already loaded, Davis believes he has a better opportunity in L.A, via Trudell:
The minutes were tough there playing behind Marc (Gasol) and Zach (Randolph) and it was up and down. ...
I feel there's a better opportunity here ... (I'm) looking forward to this opportunity with this great franchise and looking to contribute every night. What I bring is athleticism, defense, running the floor, blocking shots, all the little things.
There might already be a crowded frontcourt with Boozer, Randle and the re-signing of Ryan Kelly, but Davis should still get more opportunities. If he can provide simply another great role player alongside the aforementioned paint presence, Davis would wind up as a solid signing for the Lakers.
Ryan Kelly Re-Signs with Lakers for Two Years
We're beginning to notice a trend here with the position the Lakers are looking to bolster. But much like Hill, Kelly can play different positions on the court.
The Lakers announced that the former Duke forward officially re-signed on Monday with yet another quote from Kupchak:
Ryan did everything we asked of him as a rookie and showed great promise and potential. After rehabbing an injury last summer, he will have the benefit of a full offseason regimen and training camp for the first time in his NBA career, and we anticipate further development as a result.
Therefore, you can add Kelly's name just below Boozer, Randle, Hill and Davis, right? Well, with his great shooting from outside, the second-year player can also add versatility at small forward.
Averaging 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game adds to the depth of the Lakers bench. But his 33.8 percent shooting from behind the three-point line proves he's more than just a paint player.
Marc Stein of ESPN also provides the official numbers on Kelly's contract:
Official numbers on Ryan Kelly's new deal with Lakers: $1,650,000 in 2014-15, $1,724,250 in 2015-16— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 21, 2014
With such a minimal cost, the Lakers will likely get plenty of production from the former Duke player over the life of the contract.
Though he will likely never be a star player, the second-round pick adds depth two both forward positions. As the 23-year-old continues to blossom in L.A., fans can expect his production to slowly grow with more minutes.
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