Jared Dudley: LeBron James & Anthony Davis wanted me back, but couldn’t convince Lakers

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Jared Dudley with Lakers
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Jared Dudley retired and joined the Mavericks as an assistant coach.

But his preference? Returning to the Lakers as a player.

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:

he would have played for a non-guaranteed contract

James loves him. Anthony Davis loves him. Russell Westbrook wanted him. Overtures by all three were made to the front office. Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis wouldn’t make room.

It appears they didn’t want him as a player because they felt that, with their aging team, they need youthful depth. They apparently never discussed the possibility that he would retire and become a coach.

“Obviously LeBron and A.D. wanted me back,” said Dudley. “But we just couldn’t convince them.”

“I talked to Rob and Kurt, I thanked them, but I told them, you’re valuing youth more than a locker room presence guy,” Dudley said. “I said, ‘I respect you for doing that, but I think you’re wrong,’”

It’s somewhat surprising the Lakers wouldn’t bring Dudley to training camp on an unguaranteed contract. They could have still waived him if they wanted to use their roster spots differently but at least kept their options open.

Perhaps they feared the politics of waiving Dudley once he gathered with other players, though.

LeBron James was already public in his support:

Congrats to my guy if this true, which is probably is! But man!! [F***]

This sounds similar to LeBron’s reaction to the Cavaliers not re-signing Kendrick Perkins.

Dudley would have provided value as a veteran mentor. His professionalism and and basketball intelligence are exemplary.

But the 36-year-old struggled to contribute on the court at this stage of his career. Los Angeles sapped its depth in trading for Westbrook. Many of the reinforcements are older, furthering the need for playable depth.

Young players also bring a a contagious energy. That can definitely help an old team like the Lakers through a long season

We’ll see what the Lakers do with their remaining roster spots. Dudley would have provided value. But other players could provide more.