Column: The Lakers’ failure to retain Jared Dudley is ‘crazy’ and a massive blow to a title run

He barely played, but his passion could be seen in every play.

He was the last guy on the bench, but the strongest voice in the locker room.

On a veteran team of disparate personalities, he was the glue. Amid a laborious season filled with lulls, he was their muse.

He kept their two superstars aligned, he kept their role players from feeling neglected, and he eventually even helped them win a championship.


So, to a Lakers team he guided for two seasons from the shadows, what do you think a guy like Jared Dudley is worth?

Apparently not much.

After being rebuffed in his best efforts to return for a third season — he would have played for a non-guaranteed contract — Dudley suddenly announced this week that he is retiring to accept a job as one of the top assistants for Jason Kidd’s Dallas Mavericks.

And so a summer filled with headline acquisitions ends with a huge loss.

Dudley played a total of 81 minutes last season, but his impact was timeless. He scored a total of 74 points in two seasons, but his intangibles were countless.

“I thought I was coming back to the Lakers,” said Dudley, 36, in a phone interview. “This is crazy.”

It’s so crazy, none other than LeBron James went crazy, expressing his disbelief on Twitter after hearing the news.


“Congrats to my guy if this true, which [it] probably is!…

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