Roster Decisions

Kurt —  September 7, 2006

I’m moving this from the comments below to its own thread — as you know, yesterday the Lakers signed the player they traded for in the second round, Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock. First and foremost, I like the signing, I thought he showed potential in the summer league.

But there are questions. First, what kind of deal was this? Almost certainly a non-guaranteed deal, meaning you get to come to camp and play your way onto the 15-man roster. If you cut him in camp, he becomes a free agent. But giving Pinnock a deal (combined with the way he played this summer) implies the Lakers want to keep him.

The problem comes in creating roster space. The Lakers have 13 guaranteed deals (Kwame Brown, Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Brian Cook, Maurice Evans, Jordan Farmar, Aaron McKie, Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom, Vladimir Radmanovic, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Shammond Williams) and two partially-guaranteed deals they want to honor (Smush Parker and Ronny Turiaf).

That’s 15. That’s all you’re allowed. So how do you make room for Pinnock? What about Devin Green? Or Laron Profit?

As I suggested before, I see two logical options to create roster space:

One is some kind of two-for-one trade. The logical trade bait remains Chris Mihm plus filler (like Cook or Sasha) for something of value. If some team loses a center for the season to injury during training camp, this scenario becomes more likely, but the Lakers seems cautious about making a deal — trade Mihm and you are betting that Kwame can play the year as the starter and Bynum can be a solid backup every night. Both of those are risks, so to trade Mihm you better really like what you get back in return.

The other, and I think more likely option, is to buy out McKie’s contract. Look at it this way, McKie is old and injury prone, Pinnock is the future. You keep a guy like McKie around over Pinnock only if you think you can compete for a title this year. The Lakers are not there with this roster.

But there may be more creative ideas out there. Any ideas?