While the Lakers are out of the playoff picture, and LeBron James will not play again this season, several players on the roster have incentive to finish the year strong. As Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times writes, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Mike Muscala are set for unrestricted free agency this summer.
Without the postseason as a motivating factor, the next pay check for those players is a strong consideration. Head coach Luke Walton commended those players’ efforts to close out the season.
“I think they’ve done a nice job of staying focused on the team. And that is a big thing, a real thing,” Walton said. “Guys should be concerned about their futures. You have to take care of that as players. But when you take care of your team and play with that type of attitude, the other teams in the league see that. That’s what they want.”
Particularly, Walton praised McGee, stating that the NBA champion “looks good right now,” and adding that his contributions recently have been “meaningful numbers.”
Check out more Pacific Division notes:
- Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register opines that the Lakers‘ front office needs to be cognizant of its missteps this past season. Unable to pair James with another elite talent, this summer will be another chance to do so and the team will need to be smart with its approach.
- As the Clippers prepare for the postseason, the team hopes to get Patrick Beverley back on the court and healthy, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. “So, it’s an injury of concern, but nothing that I think is that serious,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “He will play in the playoffs. I’ll say that.”
- Matt John of Basketball Insiders looks at how the Suns can accelerate their rebuild. Phoenix has a solid star piece in Devin Booker but will need to maximize acquisitions via free agency and the draft.