Filling Out the Roster

Darius Soriano —  July 22, 2013

Summer league is officially over for the Lakers. The group of players sent to Vegas competed hard and well, flashing their skill sets and, for a select few, were able to show off skill sets that will likely earn them invites to training camp in a couple of months.

The names that stood out most should be familiar by now, but I’ll repeat them anyway:

  • Marcus Landry. Landry is a combo forward who showed off a nice offensive skill set that includes range on his jumper and effective work off the dribble. He also competed well defensively, both on the wing and in the paint.
  • Elias Harris. Harris is rangy power forward who has a good combination of skills offensively with good enough athleticism to compete defensively and on the glass. He was a nice “glue” player for the team and was able to do a lot of the little things that helped the team win games, even if his individual numbers didn’t stand out.
  • Chris Douglas Roberts. Everyone knows that CDR can score well so it was nice to see him expand his game to include playmaking for others. He showed a willingness to attack off the dribble and, after drawing extra defenders, make good decisions to hit teammates with passes for open shots. He also defended well on the wing, a trait that he’ll need to show more of to make it in the NBA.
  • Robert Sacre. Sacre will never be an above the rim player or one who can use quickness to explode into space and be an athletic presence in the paint. That said, his smarts and understanding of positioning and angles give him a polish on both sides of the ball that stood out in Las Vegas. If he can start to hit his jumper with more consistency, he can be a rotation player in the league simply due to his combination of size, smarts, and emerging skill.
  • Lester Hudson. Hudson displayed a good offensive game and solid floor general skills. He didn’t always make the best decisions, but he played hard on both ends and proved that he could score and distribute on one end and pressure the ball and fight through screens on the other. Hudson is a smaller guard who doesn’t quite fit into what the Lakers still need on their roster at this point, but I liked what I saw from him overall.

Of the above players, I could see all of them but Hudson earning an invite to camp (with Sacre a definite since he’s signed for the next two seasons). It’s not that Hudson didn’t play well enough, but the Lakers already have three point guards on the roster and from a pure numbers standpoint he’d likely be better off trying to catch on with another team.

Who gains an invite to camp is pretty important because, though the Lakers have already made several signings, they are not yet a complete team. As of today, the Lakers have 11 players under contract for next season. Once rookie power forward Ryan Kelly is signed, he will make 12. The minimum roster amount is 13 and teams can carry up to 15 players. Typically the Lakers have preferred to have at least one open roster spot for flexibility purposes, so that likely leaves two open spots the team still needs to fill.

Who those players will be is an question that’s a long way from answering. The players above will get looks, there are still free agents on the market who could be signed (Lamar Odom’s name continues to float in the wind), and there’s players who did not play on the Lakers’ summer team who will earn camp invites (Shawne Williams is reportedly one such player). But even if we don’t yet know who the players will be, we do have an idea about what skills the team still lacks and the types of players who would best fill those gaps.

Here is an example of a potential depth chart:

Position 1st string 2nd string 3rd string
PG Steve Nash Steve Blake Jordan Farmar
SG Kobe Bryant Jodie Meeks
SF Nick Young Wesley Johnson
PF Jordan Hill Ryan Kelly
C Pau Gasol Chris Kaman Robert Sacre

You can quibble with whether or not Blake or Farmar will back up Nash, and if Hill will really start at PF or if the team will start both Pau and Kaman together. We’ll get answers to those questions eventually. But, as of today, above is what the Lakers have in mind with the moves they’ve made this summer and in getting everyone back healthy.

What that depth chart shows is that the Lakers are still a bit thin on the wing and at the PF spot. Sure, Blake could (and probably will) play some shooting guard. And Pau can always play some power forward next to Kaman (or even Sacre if it comes to that). But, even with that versatility on hand, the Lakers could still use another wing who can play SF and another big man who can player PF.

If the players brought in to fill those spots can play multiple positions, even better, but that’s not a requirement since the team already has a fair amount of versatility already. But, ultimately, the team needs another big man who can play ahead of Ryan Kelly and another wing to hedge the bet they’ve made on Wesley Johnson. Guys from the summer team — CDR, Harris, Landry — can fill those holes, as can guys currently on the street — Odom and Williams. But the fact is, the Lakers still need to sign at least one player and probably two if only to get enough depth on the team at every position to field a complete roster.

There’s still time for this stuff to play out and over the next month or so we’ll have more insight into what the Lakers plan to do. But from where we stand now, there’s still a bit of work to do even though the front office has already done a good job of signing capable players in free agency.

Darius Soriano

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31 responses to Filling Out the Roster

  1. I am actually excited to see how this team comes together. I think the journey this year could be a very enjoyable one, even if the end doesn’t result in a championship. The injuries, the changes, and the presence of a dominant player who didn’t want to be here last year led to games that weren’t fun to watch. I doubt that will be a problem this year.

    With that said, my money is on Marcus Landry being able to secure a spot on the team. The ability to fill two critical spots on both ends would seem to be too much to pass up. His flexibility to both handle and shoot at the 3/4 makes this almost a given – assuming he doesn’t fall apart in camp.

  2. There should be plenty of competition in camp for the remaining one or two spots. This is a good sign along with the short term contracts. MDA is getting the players to fit his system.

  3. None of those players should/will see meaningful minutes in the regular season.Morris and Goldy are better then all of those players and the Lakers waived them…

  4. Lets just be real about this season. The front office has done a heck of a job making the best out of an impossible (Dwight leaving, Kobe injury/competitiveness, yada yada) situation; however, this roster isn’t close to competing for a ring. That being said I am still extremely intrigued by the pieces that are already in place.

    My biggest concern is the collection of quite possibly the most injury-prone frontcourt in the league (I won’t even mention the backcourt because we all know the risk there). Kaman is has missed a ton of games over his career but when healthy will be effective. Where he fits in with the D’Antoni system remains to be seen. Pau, Hill, and Kelly are all coming off injury-plagued campaigns and I’m still not convinced Kelly is even close to NBA ready. Basically I’m preparing myself for a heavy dose of Sacre this season.

    As for who will get the final spot(s) on the roster, I’m with Craig. Landry’s defense will be an asset with the swap of Metta World Peace for Nick Young down the stretch of the season. I personally doubt that Odom will be back but his career arc is about as confusing as it gets so nothing would really surprise me at this point.

  5. gene-
    none of these players are expected to play significant minutes. Morris and Goudelock are not better than their replacements which would be Farmar and Young. Morris and Goudelock aren’t needed. it’s SF and PFs that are needed. on top of that, Morris and Goudelock, two very likable guys, aren’t any better than CDR or Landry. they just play different positions.

  6. smoothaswilkes July 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    @gene – Morris isn’t better than Farmar. And Goudlelock would have a hard time finding time in that crowded guard rotation once Kobe comes back. And neither can play 3 or 4, which is where this team is lacking depth.

    If Odom doesn’t sign, I thinks it’s Landry and either CDR or Williams that fills the last two spots. And hopefully the team gets Harris and Snaer signed to the D-fenders for some more seasoning and in position for a possible call-up if the aforementioned guys don’t work out. The D-League is a resource the Lakers have to make better use of this year, and going forward.

  7. Responding to Aaron from the last thread:

    rr,
    Really? You’re going to make me comment on this season? Really? Okay fine. Farmar as the third PG? He is literally the best PG we have on the roster by far. Check his PER his last season with the Nets and compare that to Blake/Nash last year. Throw in the fact Farmar is in his prime and Nash/Blake are past theirs… This isn’t close

    I like Farmar, but his 17.4 PER in New Jersey was driven by some shooting numbers that appear to be outliers based on his career track record. That said, I never liked the Blake deal and think Farmar should be playing ahead of him.

    As to Pau, yes and no. The numbers/eye test indicate that he is still a competent defender if he is in the low-post; playing with Bynum and Howard the last two years, he has been trying to defend in space too much. Paired with Hill, Pau’s on/off numbers were pretty good, as Hill has some mobility on D and plays low-usage off-ball on O. The KBros suggested that the market is soft in large part because of Pau’s health concerns, and might pick up if he appears to be healthy.

    That said, I do think the Lakers will have a bad team this year. But I am not yet convinced that Pau has no bounceback in him.

  8. Available preferred Sfs – Stephen Jackson, James Johnson, Tracy McGrady,and Linas Kleiza – all 6″8 – tall enoughish

    available preferred Pfs – Kenyon Martin, Odom, Austin Daye, Ivan Johnson, Drew Gooden, Jared Jeffries

    All of these players are better than every one of our guys on our summer league team. Look at the clipper or rockets – no contenders are keeping d-league level talent on their teams when guys like this will sign for the minimum just like nate robinson – who killed it for chicago in the playoffs only just got 2 million per year.

    I see the big need for us being some type of size – I really dont think Nick young should be playing SF – hes too thin and has played guard the whole time he has been in the league. Johnson maybe because he is a bit bigger but we need a taller stronger guy to body up the more powerful Sfs out there which is why it was hard to lose metta – he may have not been super accurate the whole time but he could simply overpower people with his body where as now guys like johnson and younf are going to get pushed around.

    We probably got the best of the bargin rate guys but there are still other options available and I would rather us get somone who like johnson might not have been used properly who could flourish or like mcgrady someone who can show flashes of their previous top-level talent.

  9. This team reminds me of the 08 Lakers team. Youth, speed, experience all in one. Took a few moves to get to the finals that year. That team was far from a dominant defensive team but the offense was crazy good. This team will score with ease, may just take a few moves to become contenders. And Mitch and Jim have the expirings to dump on sellers at the deadline.

  10. I agree with a lot of what Robert said in the other thread, but I think, as he did with the Fisher deal, he is using selective memory/slanting the facts when it comes to Riley’s departure back in 1990. From Wiki:

    Riley stepped down as coach of the Lakers after they lost to the Phoenix Suns in the 1990 NBA playoffs, amid rumors of player mistreatment and anger problems on his part. In spite of these rumors and his resignation, he was named NBA Coach of the Year for the first time.

    I think the players and pretty much everyone felt that it was time for Riley to move on at that point.

  11. Shawnee Williams is going to be a key guy this season. He very well may be the starting stretch four. The lakers liked him coming out of the draft for the triangle because of his triple threat skills. Given his checkered history it is hard to be very optimistic about him reaching his potential (NBA starter) but he very well could here. He’s light years ahead of Marcus Landry and any other D-league prospects.

  12. Kevin,

    Again, Pau will be 33, Kobe will be 35, and Nash will be 40 and all of them, in addition to Hill and Kaman, have health concerns. Kobe is coming off a very severe injury. The team’s best defenders from last year are gone. I do think that Farmar (if MDA plays him) and Johnson will help a little with the perimeter D, and Pau may do better paired with Hill and playing the 5, but as we have seen, most of the arguments being optimistic about this team revolve largely around chemistry, cohesion, etc–not around specific things that the players actually do.

    Also, Young, Johnson and Farmar are 28, 26, and 26, respectively, so they are not really young guys by NBA standards.

  13. rr: I don’t think anyone should doubt Kobe until he gets old and can’t play. You said yourself in a post above Pau is still competent at center and the numbers back you up when he plays C. Nash shooting will still be there and unlikely to get injured 1 game into the season. I think a reason for optimism is Lakers have players in their prime playing for future contracts. Something good can come out of that and Lakers benefit greatly with Farmar, Young, Johnson, Meeks, Hill playing for money. Second, this team has no pressure this year. I’m not saying the talent level on this team matches 08′s end result. But before the Pau and Ariza trades, growth from role players allowed Mitch to go for it. Bynum’s injury too but his step forward that year had Lakers as a top west team. Back to this year, it’s not far fetched for Farmar, Young, Johnson, Meeks and Hill to all become valuable players this year like in 08 and put the team in position to make moves around the deadline like they did in 08.

  14. Notice that Williams and Landry have a history with MDA.,
    so he knows what they bring. Williams knows this is probably his last chance after screwing up on and off the court.

  15. Well, what I am basically saying is that everything breaks right, they are back to 45-37 or so. And I think a lot has to break right to get there.

  16. T. Rogers,
    Yes, it was an interesting article.

    I do think the article took it on faith that Kobe was a large part of driving Dwight out of town. There is also ample evidence – including, but not exclusively, Steve Nash’s comments over the weekend – that Dwight was never comfortable in Los Angeles and wouldn’t have included the Lakers in his list of preferred teams except that they were so successful that to exclude a large market team that wins would seriously hamper his ‘I want to win a ring’ pronouncements. There is no question that Kobe’s presence has something to do with this, but – I contend – so would the presence of Lebron and a potential destination. That is why I feel Houston should worry if James Harden continues his superstar climb.

    The other part about the relative front offices – i.e. Riley in Miami and Pop in San Antonio – is selective and certainly doesn’t credit Mitch with being anything other than a puppet over the last 12 years. This is – IMO – not a credible extension and simply illustrates a dislike of Jim Buss and, therefore, crediting all problems to him.

  17. denny – actually not such great insight. totally ignored the stretch provision, which could prove pretty powerful if in fact the lakers have the opportunity to sign one or two big fish. any writer planning on explaining why the lakers can’t sign anyone better than luke walton for the next million years should at least do a little salary cap homework.

  18. rr: We are in agreement. When all of the trio left (Riley, West, and Jackson), there were reasons certainly not fully in ownership control. Riley as you stated above, West and Phil hated each other, and Phil retired. However, we should have picked a horse at some point. Riley left and there were plenty of chances to get him back (if he was offered more power). Ditto for West. Or we could have rehired Phil. Point is we dated 3 of the hottest girls in the school and we stayed home on prom night. I am faulting us for not having all of them – I know you agree we should not be 0-3.
    Craig: Mitch is not a puppet, however the major reasons why we got our last 5 rings are Kobe, Phil, Shaq, and Pau. 3 of those West got for us and the 4th one West sent to us. West has more to do with our success that Mitch does. Then again to your other point, Mitch has much more to do with our success than our current owner does. And for the record – I do not attribute all our issues to Jim. However he is the root of many of them.

  19. rr: “I do think the Lakers will have a bad team this year.” Well – do not know if we will be “bad” as that depends on the definition of that word. However I will say that I think we will be worse than “6th” best in the league (hard to believe that was my point of intolerance just a little over a year ago.
    Ed: “Notice that Williams and Landry have a history with MDA, so he knows what they bring.” – You mean like Earl Clark?
    Ed/rr: “Williams knows this is probably his last chance after screwing up on and off the court” That is my dictionary definition of a problem child : )

  20. I have said many times that I don’t think James is coming here, but the Grantland piece demonstrates why guys who are emotional about Kobe shouldn’t try to analyze things related to him. I get the feeling that the guy wrote that mostly so he could get his jollies doing the “Kobe Reaction Tweets.” Guys like Dubin fixate on Kobe too much to see the big picture, and things will look a lot different at this time next year, so while any of his scenarios may come to pass, it doesn’t revolve around what is in Kobe’s head to the extent that he thinks it does, and pieces that rely on long-distance mindreading are generally sketchy.

    That said, the general point of the article is right–based on where we are now, it seems very unlikely that James will be here.

    Craig,

    No one other than you said that Mitch is a puppet. We get it: you are going to defend the FO and ownership, no matter what. You said so. But get the facts straight and deal with what is posted, not with what you think the motivations behind it are.

  21. Robert,

    I think the Lakers are low-ceiling and high-variance. If Kobe, Pau, Nash and Hill stay healthy, Kobe is back early and plays well, Johnson improves slightly on O and helps the perimeter/transition D, Farmar gets enough floor time to help with the perimeter/transition D and someone else–like Shawne Williams–does more than expected, the Lakers can win about 42-45 games.

    But, it is also easy to visualize a scenario in which the team goes about 23-59. The smart money, then, would shoot down the middle, so I see the Lakers as a 32-38 win team.

    The questions–and I don’t think anyone has the answers–is how this year will affect next year and and FA, and what 2014 regular season scenario is in the team’s best interest long-term.

  22. Robert – I would love to hear about the plethora of times the Lakers could have brought Riley back. Please. Do Tell. Same with Jerry West – though presumably Jerry West would only come back if Jeannie leaves Phil and Phill is banned from the Lakers – but I am eager to hear the many opportunities we had to bring him back.

    Oh, and why are you so convinced that Phil, and only Phil, is the savior for this team?

  23. But I am not yet convinced that Pau has no bounceback in him.
    _____
    I´m on board here

  24. Manny: With regard to Phil: He would not be the savior for this team in 2013-2014, Nobody would be. The damage is done. I favored Phil over MD. I am not a bandwagoner on this. I was against the MD decision from the beginning, and there are megabytes of archives on this site to attest to that : ) The MD was decision was a mistake – obviously. He will be gone soon enough.
    With regard to Riley, West, and Phil – they are all parallel. Laker legends who are elsewhere because they wanted to have more power and possible ownership. The Buss family did not want to yield them this power and they are all gone. It is upsetting to me, because they are the best minds in the game. It is also upsetting to me that Magic is one of the biggest personalities in the sport and we are on the outs with him. It bothers me that KAJ barely speaks to anyone with the Lakers and had no role in the DH attempt. It bothers me that we dissed Brian Shaw. This did not all start with Jim, but he has accelerated it. He fired Lester and the other FO personnel, he dissed Brian, he tried to humiliate Phil, and Magic despises him. These are not opinions- they are facts.
    Manny: We are not in a good spot here and there is no easy answer. I simply would favor letting different people make the decisions rather than continuing the current trend. If you have faith in Jim/Mitch/Mike, then we are rooting for the same thing. You are just doing so more confidently than I am : )

  25. Manny,

    I backed the MDA hire at the time, not knowing that Howard made it pretty clear that he wanted Phil involved with the team, and then later that he didn’t want to play for D’Antoni. Howard might well have bailed anyway, but effectively choosing D’Antoni over a better chance to keep Howard is, instead of hiring Jackson or maybe in the offseason, Shaw, shall we say, a questionable decision. I think MDA is a better coach than he is sometimes portrayed as being, but he appears to be unpopular with many players and has made some questionable player usage and tactical decisions.

    That said, leaving interpretations aside, we know that:

    1. The Lakers have no high-level young or prime talent on the roster.
    2. They have very few draft picks over the next few years.
    3. They are not anywhere near being a contending team right now.

    A lot of that is not Jim Buss’ fault, but he is wearing the big hat. That means that the bad situation is on him, and fixing it is on him.

  26. Since widely speculated Jim Buss took over:
    Hire Mike Brown
    Trade for Chris Paul. Later rescinded.
    Murphy, Kapono signed
    Odom traded before his drop in production
    Trade for Sessions, Hill
    Get Nash from rival Suns
    Leverage Bynum’s best season to get Dwight. Get Clark too
    Sign Jamison for the minimum
    Fire Mike Brown , who was the city’s whipping boy. Hire D’Antoni
    Over the tax line sign Farmar, Johnson, Young and Kaman
    Kobe’s defense
    Pau’s effectiveness being limited
    Injuries
    Other team’s GM’s being savvy and getting good players

    I think a lot of things that Jim can’t control has affected the team more than the things he’s done last couple years.

  27. Warren Wee Lim July 22, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Bill Simmons can’t help hating the Lakers that he had to put that up for everyone. He knows there are more Laker-hater fans than there are Celtic fans.

    He is both right and wrong. If he thinks Kobe is NOT AT ALL taking a paycut then he’s stupid. But he knows Kobe is media savvy, he will say things that will make you go Ooooh and Aaaah without really telling you.

    In my scenario, the Lakers have the flexibility to do many things. Alot will depend on the price range Kobe is thinking about. It will be unwise to sign him NOW when you have no leverage and all things become fixed.

    First, he is right about the cap holds. That is something that needs to be taken cared of before you proceed to the actual signing, etc. However, during negotiaion, your projected full cap space is your projected full cap space. This is because technically speaking you CAN renounce everyone in this manner.

    Second, Simmons has not considered the possible gain of 5.5 more million of the Lakers chose to waive Nash via the stretch provision.

    Third, Robert Sacre’s deal is guaranteed. With the matter of the cap hold explained, his salary is a mere 400k above the cap hold and thus will not matter alot if it came down to it.

    What Simmons failed to address was that outside the fact that the Lakers CAN add Lebron and Melo, that we are not going to do that. I give Carmelo Anthony as the guy that has the greatest/biggest propensity to be the next Laker. MDA’s presence would bother that though I’m sure the Lakers would have no hesitation firing him next year if it was Melo’s wish and he’d commit.

    Melo and Kobe are natural scorers. They are also a very good fit beside one another. Their games are complimentary to one another.

    If Melo chooses to opt out and sign/remain w/ the Knicks (its his only other option) then the Lakers turn their attention to the half-priced Rudy Gay. As me and a few others discussed on twitter, my starting price for Gay is 13 million. While its true that this is 2-3 million more than what he’s supposed to be paid, this is also his real market value. Teams that have the full max to offer him will not hesitate giving Gay his 15M.

    MArcin Gortat is a very realistic target. However he would belong to a 2nd tier of free agents that we would be signing. They would be the Plan B of sorts.

    Kobe and Pau will get deals that are alot lower than what they are earning this year. If they combine for 50 million this year, expect them to earn half of that next year combined.

    Steve Nash might also be retained but it will depend on all other pieces.

    The 2015 free agent class is much stronger than 2014 so its also not a foregone conclusion that we don’t use everything this season and leave some flexibility for next.

  28. Kevin, that is a long list. A short list including only the first item sums up Jim Buss’ basketball sense pretty well.

  29. jaycartygoldenwheels July 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Harris is the kind of guy other teams hold onto (like the Spurs), and then the rest of the league kicks themselves later. Worth holding onto for a season, always need hustle points.

    I’m as much a fan of PJ as anybody else for his body of work, but can we move on? Remember how they melted down in his last playoff run? That said, the best situation would have been B. Shaw coaching, and Phil in some kind of consultant role. Times change, when Kobe is gone they can hire a fresh coach (not a retread), a la Stevens, Spoelstra, Thibodeau, Popovich…