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What should Lakers fans expect from Taurean Prince?

We asked someone who covered Taurean Prince with the Timberwolves for their thoughts on what he’ll bring to the Lakers.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The first move the Los Angeles Lakers made in NBA free agency was agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with now-former Minnesota Timberwolves forward and unrestricted free agent Taurean Prince.

Just like we did back at the trade deadline when the Lakers acquired some players from their former host city, we turned to Canis Hoopus site manager — and Wolves and Lynx beat reporter — Jack Borman for some thoughts on Prince’s game, and what he will bring to the Lakers’ roster.

Below is our Q and A.

What should Lakers fans expect to see from Taurean Prince? What are his strengths and weaknesses at this stage of his career?

Borman: First and foremost, before basketball, Taurean Prince is a tremendous vet, brings good vibes, and is extremely easy to root for, so he’ll fit right in with the makeup of the 2023-24 Lakers.

Prince’s best skill on the floor at this stage is his consistently reliable 3-point shooting; the former Baylor star shot 37.8% from 3 on 423 attempts over two seasons in Minnesota, including 43.7% from 3 on corner 3s, per Cleaning the Glass. But unlike fellow Wolf-turned-Laker Malik Beasley, Prince knows he doesn’t need to shoot the ball on every touch and rarely takes ill-advised shots. He can capably guard 3s and slower 4s, too. However, he shouldn’t be expected to be a stopper on the wing by any means; he’s an average defender who won’t get picked on in a playoff series, but isn’t good enough to shut down the guy Lakers fans ask “Why isn’t LeBron guarding him?” about.

Wolves fans often wished the 29-year-old would be more active on the glass, as Prince often preferred to contest and release up the floor in transition. Although that is understandable given the damage his shooting can inflict on the break, securing rebounds was a higher priority. Timberwolves players often incorrectly assumed while Karl-Anthony Towns was out that Rudy Gobert or Naz Reid would just rebound every missed shot, and the team’s defense suffered as a result. Beyond rebounding, Prince is turnover prone as a driver and too frequently makes overly ambitious decisions that hurt the offense; the simpler he plays as a catch-and-shoot player that can attack close-outs with one or two dribbles before shooting or passing, the better he is.

Were you surprised he was cut? Was that primarily a financial decision, or was his play tailing off too?

Borman: As much as all of us here in Minnesota love TP — Timberwolves players, coaches, executives and fans alike — I was not surprised. It was strictly a financial decision. Prince was an important player had a lot asked of him all season long on an injury-depleted team, especially in the playoffs. His game should continue to age well, too. But given the market for other mid-level exception players and the lack of spending around the league, there was just no way Prince’s market value was $7.5 million; the Lakers signing Prince to a deal with the $4.5 million bi-annual exception justified President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly’s decision.

For a team set to pay $90 million to centers (and spend 94% of the salary cap on five players) in 2023-24, that $3 million makes a big difference. It allowed the Timberwolves to replace him at cost with a similar player in former Laker Troy Brown Jr., while also affording two players who project to be important rotation pieces in Shake Milton and playoff stand-out Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Is there anything else you think people should know about him, on or off the court?

Borman: Anthony Edwards adored Taurean Prince. Whether it was pregame and postgame in the locker room, during the game, or off the floor, Ant loved being around Prince. Edwards also developed a close relationship with Taurean’s son, who liked sitting by Ant’s locker after wins while the All-Star held his postgame media sessions. TP had a 100% approval rating in the locker room as a vocal leader of the team, a guy readily willing to make fun of any and everybody, and someone that frequently made his teammates burst out into laughter.

Prince also invented Stephen Curry’s “night night” celebration, and has a classic 3-point celebration of his own that Lakers fans will love when he hits shots in big moments. His best moment in Minnesota came when Timberwolves play-by-play man Michael Grady nailed a “dearly beloved” call, as a nod to Minneapolis legend Prince.

TP nailed his eighth 3-pointer of the game to cap off a 35-point explosion that fueled the Wolves over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, without both Towns and Edwards, ruining Julius Randle’s career-high 57-point night.

Big thanks to Jack for his time and information. You can follow him on Twitter at @jrborman13 if that is a site that still works when this article gets posted.

For all the latest on NBA free agency, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers free agency rumors tracker. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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