The Los Angeles Lakers continue to add youth to the perimeter, signing Wesley Johnson to a one-year deal at the veterans minimum. Johnson was a No. 4 draft pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010 and spent last season with the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers waived Metta World Peace via amnesty and lost Earl Clark via free agency, which left a huge gap at the small forward position. The signing of Johnson and Nick Young will help to fill that void for Los Angeles on the offensive side of the ball.
Johnson and Young both stand a 6-foot-7 and have the ability to score the basketball. And with Kobe Bryant rehabbing from injury, it does not hurt to have two new wing players that can put points on the board. However, both Johnson and Young must improve on their individual defense for the Lakers to have some success next season.
The Lakers have aging stars in the likes of Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. Johnson’s and Young’s youth, length and athleticism naturally make them quality defenders, if they’re dedicated to it. That is something that Bryant and Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni will have to instill in them if the Lakers want Johnson and Young to contribute at that end of the floor this season.
The Lakers still have a hole at power forward, and Lamar Odom is still out there. It is obvious that Odom still harnesses some ill feelings towards the Lakers’ organization for how things went down when he was traded not once but twice two seasons ago. Odom was traded away for Chris Paul, but that trade was vetoed by the league. Odom then demanded to be traded and got his wish. Odom was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks for virtually nothing and hasn’t been the same player ever since.
A potential return to Los Angeles would help save Odom’s career if he can swallow his pride and sign with the franchise. It would be a win-win for both sides.