The LA Lakers have taken a different approach in free agency this year. Last year, they went after experienced veterans to bolster their hopes of a successful run in the playoffs. However, that backfired, as they ended the season with a 33-49 record, missing the playoffs.
Lakers have acquired promising young players this time, deciding against bringing back any of their free agents from last season. One such player - Malik Monk - who had a career year with the franchise, signed with LA's division rivals, the Sacramento Kings.
On that note, here's a look at the latest buzz surrounding the LA Lakers as on July 1, 2022:
LA Lakers sign promising free agents like Lonnie Walker IV and Damian Jones
The LA Lakers have made a strategic approach regarding their free agency moves this year. They needed young defensive-minded wings around their big three.
LA acquired players like Lonnie Walker IV, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Troy Brown Jr. They also added depth to the center position by snapping up Damian Jones on a two-year deal.
The Lakers' roster age compared to that in previous campaign will be significantly lower this time. Only LeBron James and Russell Westbrook will be on the wrong side of 30.
Nick Wright unimpressed with Lakers' roster-building methods
Fox Sports analyst Nick Wright has criticized the LA Lakers for their roster-building ways in the last 40 years. LA has always gone after star players in free agency and via trades. They aren't known for developing young homegrown players. Here's what Wright said about the same:
"Over the last 40 years, none of their stars were homegrown guys. They are trades and free agency signings. That's how they got LeBron. It's how they got Anthony Davis; it's how they got Shaq. They traded for Kobe on draft day."
Wright also called out the Lakers for not getting rid of Russell Westbrook. The former MVP was their biggest acquisition last season, but he was a big reason behind their lack of flexibility moving forward.
Westbrook underperformed and was a misfit alongside James and Davis. However, the Lakers' refusal to attach draft picks to part ways with him could mean Westbrook donning a Lakers uniform next campaign.
"They are still shopping Russ, but they are unwilling to attach any draft picks to him to get him off the team,"said Wright. It is just baffling to me that the Lakers convinced themseleves that either the 2027 or the 2029 first round is this incredibly valuable thing. ... I just don't like how the Lakers have been operating. I think it's incredibly foolish."
Malik Monks departs to sign with Sacramento in free agency
The LA Lakers couldn't prevent Malik Monk from signing a lucrative deal in free agency with another team. The sharpshooter signed with the Sacramento Kings for a two-year $19 million deal in free agency.
The most the Lakers could offer Monk was a midlevel exception worth $6.4 million, roughly $3 million less than what he'll now earn with Sacramento next year.
Monk was one of the lone bright spots for the Lakers' last campaign. They are likely to miss his shooting the most. The former Hornets guard knocked down 47% of his shots from the field, including 39% from the 3-point range, averaging 12 points per contest.