Jared Dudley is re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers on a one-year, minimum-salary deal, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe. Dudley hardly played for the Lakers last season, notching only 364 minutes on the court, but that wasn't his primary role on the team. Dudley is revered as one of the NBA's best teammates and culture-setters. The Lakers, with a number of new faces incoming, seem to have prioritized Dudley's positive impact on team chemistry by bringing him back.
In a condensed season likely to be impacted by the pandemic, though, he may need to play a bigger on-court role than he did last season. In all likelihood, he is capable of more than just cheerleading from the bench. Dudley, now 35, took a pay cut and a much smaller role to join the Lakers last offseason but was a part-time starter for the Brooklyn Nets during the 2018-19 campaign. He is a 39.3 percent career 3-point shooter, and while his defense has slipped with age, he should be able to at least provide occasional relief minutes when necessary.
Bringing Dudley back takes the Lakers to 13 guaranteed roster spots, provided Anthony Davis eventually re-signs. That leaves two more that need to be filled, but only one can sign immediately. The Lakers have come precariously close to the $138.9 million hard cap and will need a bit of time to pass before the minimum salary prorates enough to allow them to fit a 15th player onto their balance sheet. In all likelihood, that player will be a buyout addition. The 14th spot remains up for grabs, but two rumored Laker targets, Glenn Robinson III and Nicolas Batum, signed elsewhere. That indicates that the Lakers would like to add another wing. Another big man would be helpful as well, given Montrezl Harrell's issues defending centers.
By signing Dudley, a player unlikely to contribute much on the floor, the Lakers have signaled that they are comfortable enough with what is still available to spend a roster spot on culture. Given the success they had with Dudley a year ago, that approach is certainly warranted.