Darvin's Issue: Lakers Fans Reconsider Taurean Prince for Free Agency

Taurean Prince's future with the Lakers remains uncertain.

by Abdullah Magsi
Darvin's Issue: Lakers Fans Reconsider Taurean Prince for Free Agency
© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The LA Lakers face significant uncertainties this offseason, one of which involves Taurean Prince. General Manager Rob Pelinka opted not to trade Prince, despite knowing that the versatile forward would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2023-24 season.

Now, Prince has the freedom to choose his next destination, making his future with the Lakers a topic among fans and analysts alike. In a recent interview with Trevor Lane, Prince expressed his desire to remain in Los Angeles, highlighting his family's love for the city's weather.

"I'll let the dominoes fall," Prince said, "but I'd like to be a Laker again 100%." He emphasized that staying with the Lakers is his top priority, stating that keeping his talents in LA is "definitely No. 1" for him. Fans have reacted strongly to Prince's comments, showing a surprising shift in sentiment.

One fan remarked, "Taurean would be a great re-sign; his problem was a Darvin problem, not a Taurean problem." Another fan added, "Tauren Prince was good off the bench. Just don’t start him like Ham did." Criticism of head coach Darvin Ham’s utilization of Prince was a common theme, with @SmaggLakers tweeting, "Would love to keep him with a competent coach that knows how to use his players." A third fan echoed this sentiment, saying, "Prince is a good player when he's not put in the role to be prime Klay Thompson or Ray Allen."

Ham's Controversial Decision

Prince faced significant social media criticism after Darvin Ham made him a starter in 49 of the 78 games he played.

Many Lakers fans felt that Prince should not have averaged 27.0 minutes per game and preferred Rui Hachimura to take on a more prominent role. Ham defended his decision by citing Jarred Vanderbilt’s injury, which necessitated starting Prince to relieve some defensive pressure off LeBron James.

Eventually, Ham turned to Hachimura as a starter, especially during the playoffs, where the Japanese forward started every game. Despite this, Prince maintained an average of 22.2 minutes per game off the bench, a role fans believe suits him better if he remains with the team.

The future of Taurean Prince with the Lakers hinges on several factors, primarily LeBron James' decision on his $51.4 million player option. James has until June 29 to decide, and his choice will significantly impact the Lakers' roster moves.

While most believe James will opt in, there are rumors he might explore other options, with his agent Rich Paul hinting at potential plans for the offseason. Additionally, the Lakers’ decision on Prince will depend on the new head coach, a position Pelinka has yet to fill.

Boston Celtics assistant coach Sam Cassell and ESPN analyst JJ Redick are reportedly the leading candidates. Prince has expressed his willingness to return, but the final decision will heavily rely on the new coach's strategy and vision for the team.