Whither Devean

 —  January 24, 2005

According to Joel Meyers and the Los Angeles Times this morning, Devean George should be back on the roster within a week.

He’s a familiar face that will make a lot of Laker fans happy, but not me — I’ve never been a big George fan. I think right now they are getting more out of Jumaine Jones coming off the bench than they will from George. Plus, the return of George presents two other questions: Who goes on the IR to clear room for him? What about the glut at small forward — can we trade Devean, or Luke Walton?

First, let me explain that I think George is one of those players who has the reputation and — thanks to hitting a few key shots — gives the perception that he is better than he actually is. Last season, George’s PER was 11.53 (the league average is 15), his opponents PER was 15.2, his Roland Rating was +0.4 (meaning that averaged over 48 minutes, the team was about the same with him on or off the court) and his eFG% was 46.5% (right about the league average of 47% last season). Lest you think that was a one-year aberration because of Karl Malone’s presence (or any other reason), George’s PER in the 2002-03 season was 11.35, his Roland Rating was +.1 and his eFG% was 44%.

Those are pretty pedestrian numbers. For comparison, this season Jumaine Jones (who has taken over the first small forward off the bench role) has a PER of 14.53, an opponents PER of 12.8, an eFG% of 56.1% and leads the team in Roland Rating at +13.6.

While I may not think much of George, he appears to have a good reputation around the league, which makes him good trade bait. With the Lakers’ glut at the three, they need to trade at least one small forward, and I would put George at the top of the list of people to move. The question is what they can get for him — I’d personally settle for a first-round draft pick next season (the Lakers would be without one if they make the playoffs) and a scrub/salary filler if needed. As we have discussed before, while the Lakers need to get a point or a four in a trade, I’m not sure there’s anyone they can get for George or anyone else.

In the short term, who will go off the roster to make way for George? The logical choice is Tony Bobbit, who was activated when Kobe went on the IR but has never seen the court. The problem there is if Butler or another guard is injured, the Lakers will be very thin in the backcourt. The other option is to put one of the two forwards not seeing court on IR time to make way — Luke Walton or Slava Medvedenko. To me, this makes more sense in terms of the numbers game, but it would be a shame to see one of two guys itching for their chance to be put on the shelf.