For the next few days, Los Angeles Lakers news will be dominated by Lonzo Ball’s performance in the Las Vegas Summer League.
In his debut Friday night, the UCLA Bruins product struggled mightily, shooting 2-of-15 from the field and 1-of-11 from beyond the arc. He dished out five assists but turned the rock over three times in the overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ball’s outspoken father, LaVar, called it the worst game his son has ever played—but he still found a way to spin it positively, via Sports Illustrated‘s Ben Golliver:
While the Big Ballers will draw the most eyes, team president Magic Johnson and the Lakers’ new front office are still working in free agency. It’s become clear that the team wants to add a veteran to its green backcourt, especially one who can become a mentor of sorts for Ball.
Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated reported on July 4 that if the 37-year-old Crawford was able to secure a buyout with his new team, the Atlanta Hawks, his “preference” would be to slot in as 2-guard next to Ball. The appeal of staying close to home after five seasons in Los Angeles with the Clippers was also a factor, per Spears.
On Friday, the buyout came, per ESPN’s Chris Haynes:
But the Lakers seem far from a front-runner despite their willingness to pony up what Spears called a “respectable contract.” Spears updated his original report on Thursday, before the buyout, and said that interest “was dying on both sides.”
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com wrote hours later that Crawford has been in contact with LeBron James and is “highly interested” in joining the Cavaliers despite the team’s ability to only offer a $5.2 million one-year deal. Vardon reported it was J-Crossover who initiated the conversation, as LBJ and his family are on vacation.
It’s becoming increasingly likely that Crawford won’t be a Laker, though perhaps the draw of staying home could eventually rope him back in.
One potential alternative is Rodney Stuckey, who’s spent the past three seasons with the Indiana Pacers after seven with the Detroit Pistons. At 31, he’s coming off the worst scoring year of his career, but his playing time dipped considerably in an injury-plagued 39-game campaign.
He’s typically been a reliable scorer, though, averaging 12.6 points on 42.3 percent shooting in his career.
According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (h/t Orange County Register), the Lakers have “shown interest” in the unrestricted free agent. The talks have been preliminary—no meetings yet.
“Stuckey is open to fulfilling a mentor role, playing shooting guard or point guard either in spot minutes as a reserve or extended minutes alongside” Ball, per Medina. He’s also aware that a deal would likely be for one season only.
An underlying story here is Stuckey’s relationship with Paul George. As Medina noted, Los Angeles could use Stuckey as a recruiting piece next summer should he join the team.
With things fizzling out on Crawford, Rondo and other veterans, Stuckey seems like a logical fit on a one-year, prove-it deal.
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