2: Karl Malone
In the summer of 2003, the Lakers also signed the great Karl Malone. Malone was a dynamic player with the Utah Jazz, but just like Payton, he did not win a ring.
Malone was considered one of the greatest players in the NBA history and he also wanted to get that missing piece from his resume. The Lakers pulled off two great free-agency signings and the pressure to win the title was immense. Their starting five was very well put together, but they could not find a way to beat the Pistons.
Malone made it to yet another NBA Finals, but he fell short again. Unlike Payton, who eventually won a title with the Heat in 2006, Malone ended his career never winning the main prize.
1: Shaquille O’Neal
By far, the greatest free-agency signing in Lakers history was when they signed Shaquille O’Neal in the summer of 1996. O’Neal emerged as one of the best players while in Orlando and the dominate center decided to sign with a team across country. The Lakers immediately became a better squad and he eventually joined forces with Kobe Bryant.
Kobe and Shaq formed one of the greatest duos in NBA history and those two won the title in 2000, 2001 and 2002. O’Neal won NBA Finals MVP in all of those runs and made a case as the most dominate center in league history. Although the Bryant-O’Neal break up was not pretty, Lakers fans will forever be grateful for what O’Neal did for the team.
In his tenure with the Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal averaged 27.0 points and 11.8 rebounds.