The Los Angeles Lakers have been quiet to start free agency, having only met with a handful of players. Their only transaction has been waiving Tarik Black’s non-guaranteed contract in order to clear more cap space. Desiring to maximize their options in 2018, it’s not clear how much business they will conduct this summer.
As they take a look at free agents across the league, the Lakers will also consider re-signing several of their incumbent players. One interesting name is Thomas Robinson, the power forward who has played one season in the Purple and Gold, bringing energy and athleticism in his spot minutes last year.
Robinson spoke to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, expressing his desire to stay with the Lakers where he can shine under the bright lights and continue getting significant playing time:
“I could definitely see myself re-signing with the Lakers,” Robinson said. “Business-wise, family-wise and basketball-wise, it makes sense for me. I have a lot of things going for me out here – there are so many opportunities and resources and people I connected with in Los Angeles who helped me. With my family, we were able to get comfortable. It would mean a lot to just stay put here.
“When you play for the Lakers, you’re on a bigger stage and I think that actually helped me. When you play well here, people notice that. I don’t really care about how I’m perceived, but I did notice a shift in how people think of my game this past year and it was because they saw me play more.”
As great as it would be for Robinson (and he played fairly well last year when given the opportunity), it’s unlikely that the Lakers will bring him back. Even after cutting Black, they have a massive glut in the frontcourt with more than half the current roster playing their best at the power forward or center positions.
Whether Robinson is brought back or not, the big man had kind words for head coach Luke Walton who was more than willing to give him the time needed to prove himself on the court:
“He’s going to be great,” Robinson said of Coach Walton. “He has it all figured out already. Luke is such a hard worker; he was the same way when he was a player. His hard work and his amazing basketball IQ definitely translated over to coaching. He knows how to coach different types of players. For me, individually, he helped me keep my confidence up this whole year. Every minute I played for him, he was building me up. Even if I messed up, he would help me and make sure I got it right next time. It was never about hurting my confidence or telling me, ‘Never try that again.’ Parts of my game opened up this year because Luke was allowing me to grow. If I messed something up the first time, he made sure I got it right the next three times. That’s huge for a player, having a coach work with you like that and build your confidence. He did that with everyone. When Brandon [Ingram] was struggling a bit early in the year, he kept telling him to be aggressive and helped him grow. In the second half of the season, Brandon got comfortable and looked like a completely different player. That was all Luke.”
Robinson has not had the fortune of sticking around on one team for more than a couple seasons at a time so he’s had plenty of coaches to compare to Walton. Under the young Laker head coach’s guidance, Robinson became more confident taking jumpers and handling the ball, two skills he’s never showed on a consistent basis before last season. It’s promising for the Lakers’ future that their coach seems to be one that gets the best out of his role players.