On Tuesday, the five newest members of the Los Angeles LakersLonnie Walker IV, Damian Jones, Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Thomas Bryant — met with the media for the first time since inking their fresh contracts.

In general, the two themes of the day — reflecting the Lakers' approach to free agency — were defensive versatility and playing whatever role is asked to win. After spending last summer signing prideful, past-their-prime veterans, the Lakers sought younger, athletic hoopers who can embrace supporting roles alongside stars and offer hustle, intensity, and grit.

Here are a few key takeaways from the introductory press conferences.


5) Troy Brown Jr. is ready to 3-and-D

Brown Jr., 22, knows the Lakers need wing length and perimeter shooting. He believes his size (6'6) and skill set — namely, his ability to switch onto smaller guards and can corner triples — is just what the doctor ordered.

“Being able to give some length on the defensive side of things,” he said when asked what he brings to the table. “I definitely feel like I'm at the point of my career where I'm shooting the ball a little better. So, just being able to be complimentary and do the dirty work for certain guys and be able to take some pressure off some guys will definitely help.”

In his fourth campaign, the Vegas native shot a career-best 35.3% from downtown for the Chicago Bulls.

Brown Jr. believes he can “definitely” make plays with the rock in his hands, as he flashed with the Washington Wizards, but he'll happily play a role akin to what he did in Chicago.

“I'm definitely a team guy and I definitely want to win,” he said. “So, it's one of those things where if I'm asked to be a 3-and-D or I'm asked to be a playmaker, I can definitely adjust. I think my versatility is the reason I'm here in the NBA.”

While revealing insight into discussions he's already had with Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham, Brown Jr. repeatedly brought up the Lakers' intent to play fast.

“Just talking about pace,” Brown Jr. said. “Being able to get out and play faster, even on the defensive end. Speed up offenses, and stuff like that, for other teams. Being able to put pressure on guys where we can close out and then get out and run and get in transition. It's definitely something we've been talking about.”

Ham also mentioned the need for speed in his introductory presser and ensuing media hits. Frank Vogel voiced similar sentiments before last season, but the revamped, youthful roster (the Lakers only have two current players over 30 — Russell Westbrook and LeBron James — both experts in the open floor) should enable Ham's squad to play with velocity.

4) Lonnie Walker IV isn't concerned about his role nor shooting

Walker IV — the recipient of the Lakers' prized midlevel exception — doesn't care about his role, be it as a starter, sub, defensive stopper, floor spacer, etc.

“I see my skillset fitting in perfectly,” he said. “I'm here to do whatever I need to do in order for the team to win. I'm coming in here to play defense. Play the best I can, play the hardest I can, and let the games speak for themselves. Offensively, I know I can provide a lot. Defensively, I'm here to do what I do, whoever you want me to guard, whenever there's time for me to make some stops, that's what I'm here for.”

“I'm a chameleon, man. I can change with my environment,” the 23-year-old guard added. “I'd love to be a starter but that's not up to me. … I'm just here to win and get that ‘chip.”

Music to any coach's ears.

As for his 31.4% three-point shooting percentage in 2021-22, after shooting 36.9% through his first three seasons? He's not worried.

3) Damian Jones is more than a rim-runner 

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Jones is back with the Lakers on a two-year deal. He impressed during his brief stint with the Lakers in 2020-21, in which he converted 16 of 17 field-goal attempts over eight games.

The 6'11 center credited his breakout 2022-23 season with the Sacramento Kings (16.1 points, 8.7 rebounds per 36 minutes in 56 games) to increased reps. Enticingly, Jones — primarily a rim protector and lob finisher — developed a three-point shot, which he's ready to break out in Los Angeles.

Jones never got a chance to hoop with Anthony Davis in 2020 (AD was hurt). He envisions them collaborating in the same vein as JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard did with AD.

Another impressive quality from Jones? He completed his degree from Vanderbilt over the course of the pandemic…in Engineering Science. BTW, he's friendly with fellow ex-Commodore and current Lakers two-way player Scotty Pippen Jr.

2) Juan Toscano-Anderson is a culture-setter

In his first remarks since joining the Lakers — whose history he expressed great admiration for, noting Kobe Bryant was his favorite player — Toscano-Anderson convincingly harped on his “skill” as an “everyday” culture-setter, due to his nonstop grind, team-first mentality, and relentless energy.

“Without sounding arrogant, I think my skill set translates to any team,” he stated. “I think what I do is so versatile and I think I can fit on any team. I think I can guard 1-through-5. I'll do whatever it takes to win, and when I say ‘whatever', I mean that to the core of it. I'll dive over scorers' tables, I'll rebound, whatever it takes … My energy, the way I approach my craft — I think it's infectious… I think I can bring that positivity on a day-to-day basis. And that's a skill in itself.”

On the court, JTA cited his ability to guard 1-through-5 as the key attribute he can offer the Lakers.

The 29-year-old may be on a one-year deal, but he wants to make a lasting impact on the storied franchise.

“There's a standard in this building,” Toscano-Anderson said. “Everybody knows what greatness looks like. And so, I want to come here and be a part of that. I don't want to be a guy who just passed through. I want people to remember me as a part of this organization in the years that I was here. I want fans to remember, ‘JTA — I remember when he played for the Lakers. He gave it his all. He competed. They won a championship.' Whatever the story will be. I just want people to remember me for being me and being a hard worker and a competitor.”

1) Thomas Bryant is fully healthy

Bryant, who spent his rookie year with the Lakers and the past four seasons with the Wizards, couldn't hide his elation to be back in the Lakers facility.

“It just feels great to be here,” he said passionately. “It’s super surreal for me to be back. For the Lakers organization to want me back, does a lot for my confidence.”

He returned to the word “great” when describing his repaired left knee nearly two years after tearing his ACL. The 6'10 stretch-5 said his left leg is “100 percent great. Not good. Great” and might be even stronger than his right leg.

Bryant specified that he knew he was back to full strength about a month after he returned to NBA action in January.

“I knew I was 100 percent back when I didn’t think about it,” he said. “When I just let the game of basketball take me. I got a couple of dunks … that’s how I knew.”

The 24-year-old averaged 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks across three seasons (2019-2021) prior to his injury while hitting over 37% of his three-point attempts. Certainly, the Lakers could use that player in their frontcourt.