The Morning Column: August 27, 2021
As the Lakers look to fill out the roster, they're looking at a variety of players but it wouldn't be fair to sign a vet they think they may need to cut during the season for roster flexibility.
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1. 🏀 Lakers look to fill out their roster
In a perfect world, Jared Dudley would be back with the Lakers.
The 36-year-old, 14-year veteran was a fan favorite, media favorite and locker room favorite during his two seasons with the Lakers. He was a “glue guy” on a team that certainly needed his veteran leadership.
It wouldn’t have been a surprise if the Lakers had re-signed Dudley to the same one-year, $2.6 million (veteran’s minimum) contract he had signed the previous two years. Dudley has said he would have gladly returned on a non-guaranteed contract but the truth is that wouldn’t have been fair to Dudley or the team.
If the Lakers had brought back Dudley on a non-guaranteed deal, they would have done so potentially as a placeholder and would have had to make the difficult decision of cutting him during the season to open up a roster spot. When the Lakers won the championship two years ago, for example, they waived Quinn Cook (later re-signing him) and cut Troy Daniels and DeMarus Cousins to open up roster spots to add Markieff Morris, Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith.
There’s no perfect way to say goodbye to a beloved player at the end of their career but its better to part ways in the offseason as you reshape your roster rather than have to make the far more unpopular and unsettling decision of releasing him in the midst of the season to add a rotation player. It’s also better for the player if they can make the seamless transition from playing career to coaching career by getting a job on a new team with a new head coach as they are assembling a new staff.
Dudley retired this week and joined Jason Kidd’s coaching staff with the Dallas Mavericks. Kidd signed with the Mavericks this offseason after being an assistant coach on the Lakers the past two seasons. Would that job have been available next year if Dudley had played with the Lakers one more season? It’s hard to say but he would be trying to find a role on an established staff rather than coming in fresh with a new staff. It’s a perfect role for Dudley, who will now get to work with and mentor a young team led by Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr.
No matter where Dudley ended up, he was going to be a positive presence but was it as necessary to bring back a player specifically to be a veteran locker room presence this season after the Lakers added Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Russell Westbrook and Dwight Howard?
This wasn’t the same as the Lakers feeling compelled to re-sign Derek Fisher towards the end of his career. He was the team’s starting point guard, the one constant along with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson on the five championships the Lakers won from 2000 to 2010 and hit some of the biggest shots in team history. It was impossible for Bryant and Jackson to imagine winning a sixth title on the Lakers without Fisher.
The Lakers currently have 12 players under contract and three open roster spots. They are in no rush to fill those spots right now because they like having roster flexibility. Players could become available through a buyout like Rajon Rondo or DeAndre Jordan, someone could get injured and force them to sign a veteran like JJ Redick, Paul Millsap or LaMarcus Aldridge or maybe they want bring back a former player like Avery Bradly or Wesley Matthews. All of the aforementioned players are in their 30s so it’s not fair to say the oldest team in the NBA is looking to fill out the roster with young players. They certainly could if they just wanted to add someone like Austin Reaves, Joel Ayayi and Mac McClung, who will be with the team during training camp. The Lakers could go in a variety of ways but for now they like having roster flexibility. They don’t think their season will be decided by the last three spots on the team.
Here’s what the Lakers’ depth chart looks like right now with their ages:
PG: Russell Westbrook (32) – Kendrick Nunn (26)
SG: Wayne Ellington (33) – Talen Horton-Tucker (20) – Malik Monk (23)
SF: LeBron James (36) – Kent Bazemore (32) – Trevor Ariza (36)
PF: Anthony Davis (28) – Carmelo Anthony (37)
C: Dwight Howard (35) – Marc Gasol (36)
2. ⚾️ Trevor Bauer leave extended
Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave from the Dodgers has been extended for a seventh time through Sept. 3. Bauer will likely never pitch another game for the Dodgers (and perhaps in an MLB game) but the Dodgers and MLB have to let the process play out and follow the rules before ultimately and officially parting ways while investigators look into allegations of sexual misconduct against Bauer. Major League Baseball must obtain consent from the MLB Players Association in extending Bauer’s leave every week so this will continue to be a weekly story this season until the Dodgers can finally cut ties with Bauer.
3. ⚾️ Ohtani, Tatis Jr. take the field in Anaheim
The Dodgers are playing at home for the next week but if you’re a baseball fan in Southern California, you should try to head to Anaheim to watch the San Diego Padres take on the Los Angeles Angels as the two best players and MVP frontrunners – Shohei Ohtani and Fernando Tatis Jr – will take the field at Angel Stadium. Ohtani is not scheduled to take the mound during the series but will be the Angels’ designated hitter. The “get in” price currently to see the two best players in baseball this weekend is just $11. That’s cheaper than a train ticket from Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles to Angel Stadium, which is $16 and takes just 39 minutes.
4. 🏈 USC, LSU headline Vegas Kickoff Classic
USC hopes to play at Allegiant Stadium at the end of this season when the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders hosts the Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec. 3 but the Trojans know they play in Las Vegas soon. USC and LSU announced they will start the 2024 season in the Vegas Kickoff Classic. The game will take place over Labor Day Weekend and air on ABC or ESPN.
It will be a reunion between USC and LSU coach Ed Orgeron, who twice served as USC’s defensive line coach and was USC’s interim coach in 2013. He went 6-2 and was the fan favorite to become the next head coach before USC hired Steve Sarkisian.
“We are excited to participate in a matchup that will certainly be the marquee season opening game of the 2024 season,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement. “It is a priority for us to deliver games that will energize our fans, and we are thrilled to bring this event and opponent to the west coast in a world-class facility and attractive location for our supporters. When our players choose to be Trojans, they know they will get to experience competition on the nation’s grandest stages, and this historic Vegas Kickoff Classic will be yet another such opportunity.”
5. 💵 Odds and Ends Powered by Bovada
Here are some odds on Bovada if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
6. 📆 Aug. 27, 1988: Tommy Lasorda wins 1,000th game
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda won his 1,000th game when the Dodgers defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-2. The Dodgers would go on to win the World Series two months later. The most memorable thing that happened during that Dodgers-Phillies series wasn’t a win or loss but Lasorda’s battling the Philly Phanatic.
7. 🎂 Happy Birthday, The Great Khali
Happy Birthday to Dalip Singh. “The Great Khali” as he was known in the WWE is turning 49 today. The Great Khali made his professional wrestling debut in 2000 after serving for the Punjab Police. He was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of 2021 class.
8. 🎟 Ticket Time Powered by StubHub
Here are the “get in” prices for tickets on StubHub if you’re thinking about going to a game:
9. 📺 On The Air
⚾️ 6:30 p.m. – San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Angels – Bally Sports West
⚾️ 7 p.m. – Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers – SportsNet LA
10. 📻 The Arash Markazi Show
On Thursday’s show, we talked about the Dodgers beating the San Diego Padres in a 16-inning game that ended at 1 a.m. It was the longest game since the pandemic.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you all Monday!