After months of having an open roster spot available, the Los Angeles Lakers finally filled the last gap by signing Ben McLemore to a minimum deal after the Houston Rockets waived the veteran guard.
With the acquisition of McLemore, the Lakers partially succeeded in finding the 3-and-D wing they reportedly searched for in the market.
Though McLemore hasn’t born fruit with his 3-pointers this season, he made a name for himself with the Rockets as a reliable deep shooting threat hitting on 41% of his looks. However, defense is far from an area of expertise, as his defensive field goal difference percentage is 6.7%, meaning he allows players he’s guarding to shoot that much better than their usual percentage.
But joining a stout defensive team in Los Angeles could alleviate McLemore’s issues on that end of the floor, and the Lakers could definitely benefit from his 3-point shooting with the struggles they’ve faced in that department.
McLemore explained how he’s confident in his choice to sign with the defending NBA champions and is ready to get going.
“Honestly, it was a great feeling,” McLemore said at the team’s shootaround in Miami on Thursday. “It was a great situation for me and my family and I think I made the right decision. I’m thrilled and happy to be a part of Laker Nation. Just finished shootaround. Trying to get acclimated with the guys and things like that, so I’m ready to get started.”
Playing for the Lakers, who have historically been one of the premier teams in the league, is already a big deal by itself. But when LeBron James decided to sign with L.A. in 2018, he only boosted the significance of representing the team.
McLemore said he’s ecstatic to join forces with James and the rest of the squad as he prepares to wear the Purple and Gold for the first time.
“It’s another great feeling to get to play with the best player in the world,” McLemore said. “LeBron James and Anthony Davis and all the guys. To be able to put on this Lakers uniform, I’m going to be thrilled. It’s going to be fun and exciting.”
Getting waived by Houston didn’t serve as the first time a team wanted to move on from McLemore. Prior to joining Houston, the 28-year-old wing had unprosperous stints with the Memphis Grizzlies, who traded him to the Sacramento Kings.
After featuring in 19 games for Sacramento, the Kings opted to waive him and he wouldn’t play again in that season.
Houston enjoyed McLemore’s revival with the franchise in the 2019-20 campaign, but they’ve taken a youth-focused approach this season, moving on from surplus veterans. McLemore explained the process behind the recent waiving and how it culminated in a deal with the Lakers.
“I just sat down with my family, my representations. I really put thoughts into it and tried to figure out what’s the best situation and opportunity for me,” McLemore said. “We felt like this was the best opportunity for me and we made it happen.”
Vogel explains how Lakers have acclimated McLemore so far
With a limited amount of practice time available to get acclimated to a new system, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained how the team has helped McLemore, as well as Andre Drummond, adjust quickly.
“He had an opportunity to come over and script some of the offense yesterday while he was getting his physical,” Vogel said. “He got an iPad with all of our plays on there, went through some stuff at shootaround this morning. One of the biggest reasons we had shootaround is because of Ben and Drummond being reintroduced to the lineup, just the ability to get some scripts and some defense and some offensive concepts for those guys.”
Vogel added what the Lakers hope to see from McLemore if he makes his debut against the Miami Heat on Thursday.
“So if he’s in there tonight it will be sort of throwing a whole lot of stuff at him, just asking to compete. But we’re doing everything we can to kind of get him up to speed as quickly as possible.”
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