Max Christie is making his move this summer for the Lakers

Lakers guard Max Christie, right, drives to the basket past Nuggets guard Jamal Murray.
Lakers guard Max Christie, right, drives to the basket past Nuggets guard Jamal Murray during a game last season.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
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Hey everyone, it’s Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, and welcome to the post-free-agency edition of the Lakers newsletter. I’m still hoping for my midlevel exception, but in the meantime I’m writing to you.

The Lakers were quick — I called it a sprint on more than one occasion — when it came to free agency. In a blink, they’d re-signed Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves. And they went outside the roster to land Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish.


People seem excited about the moves, and I get it. They added Prince and Vincent — both capable players in their primes — while taking a few swings on some high-upside prospects. Plus, they brought back the bulk of contributors from a team that made the Western Conference finals.

I feel like we’ll have to see — that it’s easy to have an idea but harder to find the proof to back it up. And on that note, meanwhile in Sacramento …

Max momentum

There was something in the way rookie Max Christie carried himself during the Lakers’ run in last season’s playoffs, the way he studied the game and paid attention to the increased intensity.

It was, no doubt, a learning experience. It also was, no doubt, a missed opportunity.

For all the promise Christie, the Lakers’ second-round pick in 2022, showed in limited minutes last season, the obvious desire to be out on the court in the team’s biggest moments shows just why the organization and his teammates are so excited for year two.

He wants to keep improving — but he wants to be on the court.

“The goal is to play, like I said at my exit interview, as much basketball as I can in terms of winning on the floor,” Christie said last week after a summer league practice. ”So whatever that takes. Whether that’s defense, shooting, being a leader. Whatever it is, I’m willing to do it because I want to be on that floor and I want to contribute to winning.”

Two games into his summer, the Lakers are winless, but none of that can be put on Christie, who has looked every bit the part of a second-year player ready to make a leap.


Christie scored 17 points on six-of-11 shooting against the Miami Heat on Monday only to look more aggressive Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs when he had 25 points on seven-of-13 shooting from the field.

He’s operated with confidence on and off the ball, and despite playing with first-round pick (and point guard) Jalen Hood-Schifino, it’s certainly looked a lot like “Christie’s team” — at least through the two games in the California Classic, sort of a prelude to the big event.

That begins Friday in Las Vegas, when the Lakers will play their first of four scheduled games in the desert, with a fifth game guaranteed if they don’t make the four-team playoff.

The last few seasons, summer league hasn’t been all that consequential for the Lakers — the roster devoid of young assets following the trade for Anthony Davis. This year, though, the team has six players of potential consequence — Christie, Hood-Schifino, 2023 second-round pick Maxwell Lewis and two-way players Cole Swider, Colin Castleton and D’Moi Hodge.

This isn’t exactly the 2017 Lakers summer team that was stocked with pros like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Alex Caruso and Thomas Bryant. But, unlike the previous handful of summers, this is more than just a feeder team for the G League affiliate South Bay Lakers.

Hood-Schifino’s shown a mastery of pace, a critical component to his game, that has allowed him to get to the rim despite not being the fastest player on the court. Lewis’ wiry frame and off-ball movement are the traits you’d look for in a wing. Swider’s shooting, Castleton’s play-making ability at center and Hodge’s two-way potential all flashed in the Lakers’ two losses in Sacramento.


Yet the biggest takeaway had to be Christie, a player looking like he’s on the cusp of moving into coach Darvin Ham’s rotation to fill the void left by the departures of Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr.

Last season, Christie rebounded from a rough performance in the summer to look like a credible option for the Lakers as they battled backcourt injuries, particularly during a 12-game stretch in January when he played more than 18 minutes a game.

He mostly held up defensively and he showed the promise of becoming a knockdown shooter, something his silky form always suggested even if he didn’t have results in his lone college season at Michigan State.

This summer, Christie said the goal is to show he can do more than just catch and shoot — even though he knows that’s the clearest pathway to finding minutes alongside LeBron James and Davis this season.

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Against the Heat and the Spurs, he showed a real knack for getting into the paint, using his size to create space on floaters and hang-time layups. He’s also shot the ball well, both off the dribble and the catch, reaffirming the expectations the team’s scouting department had for him when he was selected 35th overall in the draft last summer.

If Christie can keep it rolling in Las Vegas, he has a chance to be the first Laker to average more than 20 points per game in summer league since Hart did it in 2018. And more importantly, he has a chance to be the latest homegrown Laker to make a difference on the court.

Song of the week

Steal My Sunshine” by Len

Fun fact: Len collaborated with Biz Markie on this album. The summer jam that I’m sure I’ll bop to through the 110-degree Nevada heat, though, is “Steal My Sunshine.” This song has universal approval, just like Victor Wembanyama will get in Vegas.

In case you missed it

Plaschke: Rob Pelinka and the Lakers win free agency and the summer

Lakers nearly finished building around core with Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell deals


Lakers land four on first day of free agency, including Rui Hachimura

Lakers set Summer League roster

Lakers’ draft picks Jalen Hood-Schifino, Maxwell Lewis channel ‘Mamba Mentality’

LeBron James’ company to host film festival in L.A. focused on empowering athletes

Lakers bring youth by selecting Jalen Hood-Schifino, Maxwell Lewis in NBA draft

Until next time...

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