Lakers re-sign Max Christie as free agency period begins

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 2, 2023: Los Angeles Lakers guard Max Christie (10) drives to the basket against Houston Rockets center Jock Landale (2) in the fourth quarter at Arena on December 2, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers are keeping Max Christie from becoming a free agent, signing him to a four-year, $32-million contract people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly on the matter told The Times.

Christie, 21, averaged 4.2 points last season as he moved in and out of the Lakers' rotation. He would've been a restricted free agent, but the Lakers were able to strike a deal to keep him just before Sunday's 3 p.m. PDT opening bell.

Now entering his third season after being selected 35th in the 2022 NBA draft, the Lakers are hoping Christie can take a major step to become the type of player who can impact the game on both ends of the court.

The 6-foot-6 Christie had a 20-game stretch last season in which he settled into consistent rotation minutes. But once the team signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie in free agency and Gabe Vincent returned from injury, Christie's minutes were significantly cut. Christie didn’t play for the Lakers in the postseason.

His role last season was cited as one area of concern for the Lakers, and both in the search for their new coach and in the aftermath of hiring JJ Redick, Christie’s name was mentioned often as an important part of the organization’s developmental plan.

The team currently has 15 players, the maximum, on its roster counting LeBron James, who is expected to re-sign with the team after declining to exercise the option on the final year of his contract.

Read more: Is the door open for the Lakers to be players in free agency?

However, the team is still looking to be aggressive in reshaping the roster via trade. Should they clear some salary-cap space, free agency, thanks to James’ willingness to take a pay cut, should lead to the signing of an impactful player.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter on all things Lakers.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.