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Lakers are winning this offseason, but Clippers make a late play

By Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, the stalwarts from the Clippers' backcourt, peacocked across a casino floor in Las Vegas, their team the unquestioned winners after a wild night of free agency.

It was the summer of 2019, and all that covered their faces were ear-to-ear smiles as the backcourt basked in the aftermath of the Clippers landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in one fell swoop.

But the transactional title doesn't count for anything other than some good social media brags. And Los Angeles' teams (and their fans) should know even a condensed free agency still takes some time.

One NBA offseason that feels like an eternity later, there are familiar lessons, the Lakers looking like the period's big winner after perfectly executing their title defense plan. They agreed Saturday to re-sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, keeping a critical floor spacer and wing defender in the fold.

The move caps a week that has rival scouts, coaches and executives impressed with the defending champions' ability to add Caldwell-Pope, Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Wesley Matthews to offset the losses of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Danny Green and Dwight Howard.

"I like (the moves)," one rival scout said. "I think they make them better."

 

LeBron James seemed to approve, using Twitter's new "Fleets" function to show his approval for the acquisitions. A couple of emojis isn't quite the same as the Vegas victory lap Williams and Beverley went on in 2019, but in a pandemic, you do what you can.

The Lakers moves in total rivaled the other high-impact deals on Saturday — Toronto re-upping with the deserving Fred VanVleet and the Charlotte Hornets pushing all-in on Boston Celtics wing Gordon Hayward.

Across town, though, the Clippers aren't saying much this offseason. They've earned a reputation as one of the NBA's stealthiest operators, moving without much of a trace as to what's coming next.

Something better be on the horizon — seeing players move off the board has moved some Clippers fans to the edge of panic.

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