The Los Angeles Lakers had one of the best offseasons in the entire sport. Rob Pelinka and co. had an incredible showing during NBA free agency and the result is a roster that is even better than last year’s Western Conference Finals-reaching team.
Some great things broke the Lakers’ way as well. No team offered Austin Reaves a sizeable contract to make the Lakers pay more and D’Angelo Russell didn’t have a market, reducing his price in the process.
Perhaps the biggest steal of the offseason was Taurean Prince, who the Lakers signed with the Bi-Annual Exception shortly after he was released by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Prince is a legitimate rotation guy and will play a prominent role on the team during the NBA Playoffs.
It makes you wonder where the rest of the NBA’s contending teams were. Well according to a recent report from Sam Amick of The Athletic, it appears that the ongoing Damian Lillard saga may have helped the Lakers. If the Heat weren’t waiting around to make a Dame trade then they could have been the team to land Prince on an absolute steal.
"“That’s where the slow pace of the Heat-Blazers talks has made it even harder to reach a deal point. Miami has already missed out on so many affordable free agents who might have come their way had the Lillard addition already been made — like Taurean Prince, for example, before he went to the Lakers.”"
Damian Lillard trade helped lead Taurean Prince to the Lakers.
Granted, there is no guarantee that Prince would have signed with the Heat but there certainly is a good chance that he would of. After all, the Heat are still a contending team in a much weaker Eastern Conference that is going to be easier to contend in.
Not only that, the Lakers aren’t able to compete with the natural advantage of Florida not having any state taxes. The same contract in Miami goes a lot further than it does in Los Angeles.
If Miami wasn’t waiting around for Lillard and was able to confidently offer Prince a contract then there is a good chance he wouldn’t be a Laker. Then who knows who the Lakers would have targeted with the Bi-Annual, as the other options on the market were not great.
It might not seem like a big deal now but there is a world in which Prince has a huge game and swings an entire playoff series for the Lakers. If so, fans should be thanking Damian Lillard for how he has handled his trade demand.