Report: Underutilization of Max Christie was part of disconnect within Lakers

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly would like to bring back reserve Max Christie and perhaps find a better way to use the promising 21-year-old guard.

“From what I’ve been told, the Lakers have interest in him,” Lakers insider Jovan Buha said of Christie. “They want to retain him. And they still see the potential in him that was — I think part of the disconnect in terms of the front office and the coaching staff, in terms of Max Christie’s role and him being underutilized.

“So, from my understanding, the Lakers are going to try to retain him. Now as for what that deal would look like, based on the Lakers’ track record, it would probably be a three-year deal — maybe four, given his youth — but at least three. I would probably lean three and then something in like the $15 (million) to $20 million range. So, something like five to seven million annually.”

This season, his second in the NBA, Christie appeared in 67 games and averaged 4.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game, playing 14.1 minutes per contest. As a rookie during the 2022-23 campaign, he averaged 3.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game, playing 12.5 minutes per contest in 41 appearances.

A second-round pick (No. 35 overall) in the 2022 NBA Draft, Christie is coming off a two-year contract worth $2.7 million and can become a restricted free agent.

Heading into the 2023-24 NBA season, there was optimism surrounding his potential, with one league source thinking he could follow in the footsteps of Austin Reaves. Some injuries early in the season allowed Christie to carve out a role in former head coach Darvin Ham’s rotation, but questions arose later in the season about how he was being used.

After March 22, Christie played more than 10 minutes in just one of the final 11 regular season games he appeared in. He then did not play in the Lakers’ play-in round victory nor when they were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in five games in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

The Lakers fired Ham quickly after their season ended and have not named a replacement as of yet. It is one of just many things on their to-do list heading toward this coming offseason.

They are awaiting word on LeBron James’ future as the superstar has not yet decided whether to exercise his player option for next season. The 39-year-old reportedly may be looking for a new multiyear contract that includes a no-trade clause.

If James does decide to stay with the Lakers, the team might search for a third star to complement him and Anthony Davis. One former Lakers player suggested they trade for Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers, while they also have been linked in the past to Trae Young and Dejounte Murray of the Atlanta Hawks.

Whatever coaching decision and roster changes the Lakers do make likely will have an effect on their plans for Christie as well.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.