Jared Dudley wants to free Alex Caruso and other Lakers free agent shenanigans
In general, things have been mostly quiet on the Los Angeles Lakers front since their season ended on June 3.
Undoubtedly, the news cycle will ramp up as the 2021 NBA Draft (the Lakers pick No. 22), free agency, and Summer League commence in a matter of weeks. The Lakers have about half a roster’s worth of free agents and are sniffing the luxury tax before entertaining re-signing any of them. They need to find a way to improve the shooting and athleticism (and health) around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
It’s been low-key, but not silent in Lakers World. LeBron James has been particularly visible amid Space Jam: A New Legacy promotion and Sierra Canyon hoops. Marc Gasol is readying for the Tokyo Olympics. Kyle Kuzma is living big and talking bigger. On a completely different note, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was scarily accosted by a possible crime syndicate. All these players are under contract for 2021-22.
Beyond the active roster, the Lakers are changing head trainers. David Fizdale will reportedly take Jason Kidd’s place on Frank Vogel’s staff. 30 percent of the franchise was sold. The Lakers are hosting draft prospects. Magic Johnson is back on a superyacht in Europe. A Hollywood production mining Lakers IP is seemingly announced every few weeks.
But what about the Lakers impending free agents, who are weeks away from paydays and possibly career-altering decisions? Without speculating (yet), let’s simply round up what some of the Lakers’ key FAs have been getting up to.
Drummond was signed in March with an over-the-table agreement that he would immediately be ensconced as the starting center. He proceeded to start all 31 games he played in Los Angeles. That was, until Game 6 of the first round when he received a DNP with the season on the brink.
Drummond appeared peeved at his inconsistent playing time throughout the series. However, he held back on venting his frustration, besides a cryptic tweet prior to Game 6. Evidently, he’s feeling a bit more open since then.
On Tuesday, Drummond seemed to throw shade at Vogel via IG comment, blaming the coach for his underwhelming production.
Free agent Andre Drummond seems to be taking a shot at Lakers coach Frank Vogel here https://t.co/uKLY9p8E2w
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) July 6, 2021
Drummond kept the social media trolling going.
I got you bro🙏🏽😂 https://t.co/H6nJ3ZpwZd
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) July 6, 2021
😂😂😂 I love the internet
Thank you for keeping me entertained this afternoon 🙏🏽😂
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) July 7, 2021
Drummond has also spent the week promoting his decidedly Lakers-themed NFT, which includes an IRL fan experience next season.
Andre Drummond’s Showtime NFT might be a tad awkward if he doesn’t re-sign with the Lakers pic.twitter.com/6i4onQLjx0
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) July 7, 2021
At exit interviews, the 27-year cold indicated his desire to return, though quickly retreated when pressed. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, Drummond’s onetime agent, spoke highly of his character and contributions, as did Vogel.
Drummond is seeking upwards of $15 million per season, though his up-and-down stint in L.A. may render that unobtainable. To remain a Laker, The Big Penguin would need to accept a Big Paycut, possibly a veteran’s minimum or exception. According to his IG comment last month, that doesn’t seem in the cards. This should get interesting.
"LAKERS" still in the bio…for now pic.twitter.com/COiCnkZ6lK
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) July 7, 2021
THT, on the other hand, could be in line for a massive raise — possibly even a back-loaded maximum contract.
Smartly, the 20-year old (who is repped by Klutch) has been employing the classic summer workout videos PR strategy to boost his value.
In addition to clips of straight gains, THT posted a video showing him working on his jump shot — his most important area for improvement.
— Pre Season Soon LakersvsHaters (@notlakersgm) June 30, 2021
Horton-Tucker also teamed up with former Rwanda Patriot role player J. Cole and Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy for some offseason training.
Schroder, per his consistent message, wants to return to Los Angeles, make $100 million+, and explore unrestricted free agency. It’s unclear how high the Lakers will come up, but they certainly would bring him back at the right price, rather than losing him for nothing (a sign-and-trade is possible if he agreed to forego UFA).
On July 4, Schroder uploaded a vlog showing him (in Lakers gear) getting up shots at the Lakers practice facility and having a delightful mid-summer catch-up with Anthony Davis.
Schroder in the gym working 👀
Do you want to see Schroder back next year?
— SHOWTIMEFORUM (@showtime_forum) July 4, 2021
AD: "That baby about to come out"
Dennis: "Oh, for real? That's tuff." https://t.co/wvXRTIgIhe
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) July 5, 2021
He also made news last week, when, after initially opting out of the Tokyo Olympics due to his pending free agency, he changed his mind, adding last-minute complications for the national team. (If he does join, it’ll be as an injury replacement.)
In June, Caruso — a UFA on the verge of his first lucrative NBA contract — was arrested for having a grinder of weed in Texas, further endearing him to Lakers fans and LeBron. Fortunately, he seems to be doing just fine:
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) July 2, 2021
Jared Dudley — on a nice Eurotrip himself — loved to see it.
— Daman Rangoola (@damanr) July 6, 2021
The key takeaway from all of this? Enjoy your summer!
NBA free agency begins on August 2nd. See you there.