It has been virtually a month since the NBA free agency period began back on July 1. Needless to say, front offices have been far less active in the past week or two in regards to constructing their team’s rosters than they were in the first week of free agency.
The Los Angeles Lakers certainly fall into that category. There’s still a few interesting names out there on the market, searching for the next city they will get to call home. However, the current projected opening night roster is all but officially full, sitting at 14 players. Here’s what the depth chart might look like at the moment, with the first name of each position presumably being the starter:
Point guard: D’Angelo Russell, Lou Williams
Shooting guard: Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown
Small forward: Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Anthony Brown
Power forward: Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Ryan Kelly, Larry Nance, Jr.
Center: Roy Hibbert, Tarik Black, Robert Sacre
The maximum allowable amount of players on the active roster is 15, leaving only one spot available for someone else.
Robert Upshaw and the Lakers reportedly agreed on a deal after his first summer league contest with the team earlier this month, but nothing further has been announced. If a deal was actually agreed upon, it is a bit baffling as to why an official contract hasn’t been offered and signed by Upshaw, considering it’s been three weeks since the news of a verbal agreement broke.
The Lakers have been silent as of late in terms of making moves for the roster. This means the roster is practically set, right? That might not be the case. Eric Pincus of the LA Times and Basketball Insiders suggests otherwise:
Lakers are fond of both Tarik Black/Jabari Brown – roster still isn't finalized for regular season – still some decent holes
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) July 30, 2015
Both players have non-guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season, as Pincus also notes that the cut date for their deals isn’t until January 10, 2016 — unlike Clarkson’s deal, which becomes guaranteed on Saturday.
Brown and Black will seemingly both be on the team again, given their surprising production last season, along with their youth and cheap contracts. It would make little sense to exclude them from the final roster.
Assuming they are both there on opening night, that leaves just the aforementioned one open roster spot. I stated the other day in our latest mailbag that spending time in the D-League would be good for Upshaw, although other teams can try to sign him if the Lakers don’t officially add him to their 15-man roster before designating him there.
If the front office elects not to sign Upshaw, it would be interesting to see how (or if) they would fill that last spot with their room exception — worth approximately $2.8 million — still available to use.
They could use a wing defender/shooter at the small forward spot, since Bryant and Young likely won’t offer much defensively this season while Anthony Brown is just a rookie. Perhaps a guy like Dorell Wright, who has excellent size at 6’9″ and solid perimeter shooting ability, could fill that role.
Another need could simply be guard depth. Russell should be the starter at point guard, with Clarkson sliding over to that spot when the former goes to the bench. Williams is just 6-foot-1, but he’s far more of an undersized shooting guard than a point guard. Some fans have alluded to the idea of the team adding another true point guard, although the free agent market for the position is bone-dry.
Actual headline from this Google Alert: Andre Miller Signs With Wolves, Lakers Miss Again
— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrisonSBN) July 31, 2015
The Lakers of course could elect simply to leave that spot open, though that wouldn’t make a ton of sense after the amount of injuries they have endured the past two seasons. They might as well get as many bodies as they can.
Whether they choose to add another player or not, only time will tell. We still have about three months left before the start of the regular season, so it’s understandable for there to be little urgency at this point to officially add that 15th player.
It appears some planning is still taking place however, meaning there is work left to be done for Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the front office.
It seems like the obvious move is to Ryan Kelly. However, it would seem he has negative trade value, even at his low salary, or he would have been traded already. Or maybe they don’t want to deal him. What the hell do I know.