Lakers Continue to Chase Potential, Sign Xavier Henry

Darius Soriano —  September 6, 2013

The Lakers, as they continue to fill out their roster in the lead up to training camp, announced that they signed swingman Xavier Henry to a one year contract for the minimum. Henry is a three year veteran and last season averaged 3.9 points and 1.8 rebounds a game for the New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans).

Henry fits the mold of the type of player the Lakers have chased this off-season. He is young (22 years old), a former high draft pick (12th overall in 2010), and is not only athletic but offers some positional versatility (he can play both shooting guard or small forward). Those are the positives. On the negative side, he’s not been able to produce much, on either side of the ball, in his first three years which should be something you remind yourself of if you start to convince yourself the team has signed some sort of contributor. Just look at his career numbers for verification of what he’s been through three seasons. That’s not the end of the story, but it’s a big part of it since it’s what’s actually occurred on the court so far.

That said, it seems that the Lakers, knowing that the market is thin and their ability to offer any substantial salary is even thinner, have targeted players who still have potential to tap and are looking to, in one way or another, redeem their careers. Henry fits that description to a tee as he was a highly touted prospect coming out of Kansas when he was drafted but hasn’t done much of anything to justify his draft slot. When camp opens we’ll see how much he has to offer the team with a skill set that still needs refining but was enough, combined with his age, to see him go in the lottery.

And, really, that’s the bigger point here. Henry has some talent and will have the chance to show it. Chance is the key word, though. I’m not sure if Henry will even make the team when the dust settles at the end of training camp. As of now, he’s a camp body who will compete with the likes of Elias Harris, Shawne Williams, Ryan Kelly, and (though not yet confirmed) Marcus Landry for a roster spot. If Henry, or any other of the aforementioned guys, can show that they have enough potential to possibly earn some minutes in the long grind of the campaign, they’ll likely stick. If they don’t, they’re likely to be jettisoned with little invested beyond some practice time and whatever partial guarantees may exist on their contract.

But make no mistake, players like Henry are worth the gamble. Unlike a certain former #2 overall pick who was just paid to go away by the Suns, Henry doesn’t bring a lot of baggage to the table. Not in the form of legal issues or brazen attitude problems that flatlined what should have been a promising career. No, Henry is just another player who flashed enough skill in college to be drafted in the late lottery — a part of the draft that produces as many busts as it does viable rotation players. The Lakers surely hope that he, like Wes Johnson (and to a certain extent Nick Young), have the ability to come close to living up to some of what was seen in them in the first place.

Whether that ends up happening or not remains to be seen, but it’s not like the Lakers have much choice here. They only have the minimum to offer and there’s only two ways to go with that type of contract. They can try to sign young players who still have the promise of potential to improve or they can chase grizzled veterans whose primes are far behind them (the Drew Goodens and Mickael Pietrus’ of the world) and try to get them to sign on and chase a playoff spot. It’s not my money, but going after players who are, hopefully, still ascending in their careers with the potential that, if they perform, they could be part of a future with the team seems like the better play. Even if both approaches are a gamble.

So, in a month we’ll see what Henry has to offer. If it’s his career norm, no harm no foul and he can move onto another opportunity (if one exists). If it’s more than that, the Lakers may just find a part time contributor with traits they need.

Darius Soriano

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71 responses to Lakers Continue to Chase Potential, Sign Xavier Henry

  1. nice post …good idea

  2. Better him than Beasley

  3. I am going to engage on rr’s comments just for clarification. Its not the 1st time I’ve seen the phrase “you are posting like you are a Lakers PR guy” … I particularly let it pass the first time, but since you brought it up a 2nd time, here goes:

    I am a businessman and father of 3 who resides in the Southern part of the Philippines. I became a member of FBnG during the 2006-07 season that saw a Laker team struggle through adversitiy with no real contention in sight. It was also the year when Kobe demanded a trade to Pluto because the Lakers never fulfilled their promise to him in building a contender.

    I’ve been a fan of Kobe since my College days. I collected his basketball cards, cheered for him without the access of all Laker games except through NBA.com. That was a time when fantasy basketball was conceived and there was no such a thing as twitter or facebook. Somehow, a guy like me who was still studying to become an accountant managed to squeeze my Laker obsession and “grow” with the team.

    Being in my situation, I have no geographical bind to any team. That means I can cheer for the Indiana Pacers for what its worth. I grew up idolizing Reggie Miller’s clutch 3-balls vs the Knicks too. The best brand of basketball we know here is the PBA and its not even remotely close.

    Its been only 3-something years past that I’ve had access to every Laker game through league pass. Its only about the same time that internet here at our place is capable enough to be called broadband that reached our homes.

    Nothing in me screams Lakers PR guy if you knew me well enough. But I do stick w/ the Lakers through championships, contention and the Smush Parker days. So I hope a little background check would enlighten you on many fronts about making that phrase again.

  4. As for Xavier Henry himself…

    I don’t think anyone in their right mind here would believe that Xavier Henry is the savior of the Lakers. All I’m saying is that the Lakers are making all the right moves ‘considering their situation’ … that pertains to the recent theme of signings players that want to either prove themselves or players that have not really realized their potentials.

    Jordan Hill was the 8th pick of the 2009 draft, Wesley Johnson was the 4th and Xavier is the 12th overall on the 2010 draft. At one point, these guys were touted to be really good players, good enough to be selected ahead of so many prospects. Obviously, none of them has shown to be worth writing home about YET. It may or may never happen at all. All I know is that for the minimum, or a training camp invite, atleast our team/FO is doing all the right moves considering.

  5. I think its also good to note the difference between ’12 Lakers vs ’13 Lakers:

    Better in:
    1. Shooting. The additions of Nick Young, Ryan Kelly and Shawne Williams add to the Lakers ability to hit baskets with range. With Dwight gone, Kaman in also means we can have a midrange game aka Pick-and-Pop with our big man. Not to mention that our team FT% will be in the upper bracket this season with Dwight gone.

    2. Transition and Perimeter defense. I believe last year we weren’t playing transition and perimeter D because we didn’t want to, but simply because we don’t have the pieces to do so. Nash, Kobe and MWP are our insulators and all of them weren’t able to chase any of the fastbreak opportunities from the other team. This year, the influx of younger and more capable legs will change that. Farmar, Young, Johnson, Henry.

    3. Bench. Adding Jordan Farmar might be bigger than expected. With the Lakers seriously considering being under the luxury tax for the 1st time in a very long time, its conceivable to believe that Steve Blake or just perhaps Steve Nash will be moved this season. Adding Farmar softens/insulates the blow. Farmar also has the confidence in going to the basket or shooting the rock from beyond 24 feet. That means he has a game that can control the tempo when the starters take a breather. Depending on how its played out, Kaman might be coming off the bench as well. So that also ensures we have someone to rely on to score in the post or hit jumpers from PNR actions.

    4. Team Chemistry. As I mentioned, our new-look ’13 Lakers consist of guys that want to prove themselves, play for a contract or has redemption in mind, and all want to be here as opposed to Dwight just being ‘forced’ to play for us. This will improve team morale and while we may not have the talent portion covered, we might become a team thats bigger/better than the sum of our parts.

    5. Expectations. Because we’re ‘expected’ to be the 12th best team in the West (or 4th worst) then any form of success will lead to excitement. As opposed to last year’s really high expectations, this year will be a transition year where we figure out what kind of team we become in 2014 when we have a lot of moolah to spend.

    6. Youth and Athleticism. It simply follows that by being younger (albeit less talented) we have more capabilities to play basketball. Last time I checked we needed these 2 aspects.

    Worse in:
    1. Post Defense. Losing Dwight is a no brainer. Arguably the defensive player of the year last year despite recovering from injury. Our interior will be like chocolate souffle.

    2. Talent. Losing Dwight and MWP is not how to improve. I have growing belief that Steve Blake is also on the way out. All due to payroll-shaving measures.

    3. Intimidation. With a team expected to be in the lottery by so many, including the talking heads, teams will not be intimidated playing against us. If used right, this could be something that can work to our advantage.

    Perhaps others can chime in this discussion (and continue the Xavier Henry topic) at the same time.

  6. darius: The goal of this site is to have a fun, smart, and thoughtful discussion of what has happened and what could happen (or maybe should) with Lakers basketball and the NBA.

    lest we forget sometimes….

    Happy Friday !

    Go Lakers

  7. Hi Warren,
    I enjoyed your first post at 4:54am, thanks for sharing man.
    As for the difference between the `12 & `13 Lakers i´d chime in with two simple points:
    a) Intimidation factor: I like our `underdog´ status; if you´ve got nothing to live up to then the sky´s the limit. Additionally, I believe it fits in with Team Chemistry; hope the fellas can rally around each other, turn into some kinda snarling dog pack and scrape and claw to the very end; as a 30-year-plus fan, it´d make me proud, I could live with that.
    b) Glad Farmar´s back and agree with you about the impact his return could provide.
    Take `er easy dude

  8. With all the competition for spots and PT, can`t wait for camp to open and the fight to begin. More than championships,I want to see the team play hard,smart, and exiting BB. I also think Blake will be gone before too long.

  9. Warren,

    No need to legitimize your fandom. You are an all-star on this site! Keep rock’in the long-range purple love!

  10. This is the perfect year to collect young assets and see if they pan out. There are not a whole lot of obvious top-end talents in the world. Such a lot of NBA success is about opportunity meeting hard work. The thinking in Lakers camp is the following. Picking high in the lottery requires that the team fall apart, which the team is too talented to do. Too many bad teams. If the team misses the playoffs they will pick maybe 12th. Suppose you make the playoffs as an 8th seed, then you are maybe picking 17th. The difference between 12 and 17 is negligible. Better to make the playoffs and see if you run into an OKC that lost Westbrook situation, or maybe you get a favorable matchup. You just don’t know what will happen in the playoffs unless you try. Meanwhile, you show free-agents that the team is not far off, make money on playoff home games, and roll the dice for something positive. The fact that the team is picking up young, talented players (again, picked in the lottery) is a little like getting 2 or 3 lottery picks in this last draft. It’s a savvy way of looking at the process. If even one player pans out then it was well worth it. Two pan out and it’s genius.

    I’m not as down on the Lakers’ defense as others. Pau in the middle can be a very effective player. Obviously, he doesn’t erase mistakes like Dwight, but with increased athleticism and a good training camp, this team could well make less mistakes. I’m not counting on the team being good defensively. Mediocre seems a fair expectation.

    It’s September which means, anyone who feels the love can buy League Pass for me for my upcoming 40th birthday. Training camps are going to get started soon. Derrick Rose is on his way back into the league. Detroit is going to be a fun team to see develop. Lets see how Indy grows from last year and the much improved bench. Does Miami start feeling the long playoff runs? How do the Spurs respond to those last two losses in the Finals. Westbrook???? What new moves does Durant bring to light? Kevin Love healthy, Rubio starting the season healthy, and lets get a full season of Budinger. How bad is Philly? How bad is Utah? How good are the Clippers, the Hornets and Portland? Now that Kevin Garnett is back in the league, after 6-years in a green tinged, glass cage of pain, does he have enough left to bark a few times and mark his territory in Brooklyn? How soon do Lakers fans get to enjoy schadenfreude from someone elbowing Dwight Howard and the floor of the Toyota Center getting ruined by the flood of vinegar and water that pours out? Will Kobe be Kobe, can Pau and Nash stay healthy, and do we find some long term contributors to future Lakers glory. It’s coming soon.

  11. It is not obvious to me why the Lakers signed Henry. So far, he has not shown an ability to make baskets away from the rim and has shot .624 on his free throws for his career. I like his potential for playing defense but I do not see how he fits into a D’Antoni offense.

  12. Is it okay to hope? Sure. Darius just put up a whole post doing just that.

    Uh, not sure how this post can be considered one that’s full of hope.

  13. @ P Ami
    ” How soon do Lakers fans get to enjoy schadenfreude from someone elbowing Dwight Howard and the floor of the Toyota Center getting ruined by the flood of vinegar and water that pours out?”
    Classic line.
    @ Warren Wee Lim
    You’re one of the OGs on here and we all know it. I value your opinion and I am sure many on this site do, as well.

  14. “The goal of this site is to have a fun, smart, and thoughtful discussion of what has happened and what could happen ” Exactly. Discuss content. Do not comment about comments or the commenters.

    Repetitiveness and Making the Same Points: We all do it. My main positive thing is KB and my main negative thing is MD (just had to clarify in case anyone forgot).

    “Hope” We all have hope, however some people are using different yardsticks. Some measure success in championships, others may like to root for an underdog. The key is to be loyal to the same team forever no matter what. In my case it is championships, but there is no fair weather about me. I watch all the games and root for the Lakers no matter what.

    “Interesting”: Another word which has different meanings. I found 2001 to be very “interesting” : ) I found it to be a lot more “interesting” than 2012. Again – to each their own.

    Taking Chances: I am not opposed to taking some chances on some young players, but I do not think that is going to result in a cohesive unit in the short run. I would think the opposite. If we sign a bunch of problem children and youngsters, then one of them might pan out, but why would we think that would help us play better as a team in the short run. If you want to win now, you would sign savvy vets to fill roles. If you want to build for the future, then go ahead and take the chances. In my case, this year is a bust from a title perspective, so go ahead and take the chances in some cases, however let’s not kid ourselves – either way – most of the key spots on this roster are going to change in the not too distant future. I am of course hoping that does not happen with the spot #24 occupies. For other chairs on the bench – I will wait not so patiently for the change : )

  15. Here is my response to Craig and Warren from the other thread:

    Nobody, least of all Warren, is saying we should be overly excited by all these guys.

    _______

    My answer to this is very simple–Warren’s own words:

    With sufficient ball-handling skills and decent size, he could be a gem that we could use as a finisher for a bolstered bench.

    ___

    There is no evidence-none-that Henry can do anything in the NBA but be bad. Is it OK to hope? Sure. Darius just put up a whole post doing exactly that. But the analysis of these kinds of signings, along with the various narratives about chemistry, grit, potential, and redemption, should also also include some numbers, track records, and advanced metrics, which, if you recall, you (Craig) said you were highly in favor of.

  16. Warren–

    The comment has nothing to do with either your fandom or your background. I have said many times that there is no one way to be a fan. I go entirely by what you are posting on site. The Lakers have had few draft picks and they have no money, so Kupchak and Buss are signing guys who were high draft picks who haven’t done anything. Is there anything wrong with that? No, but as Kevin Pelton pointed out in an ESPN chat a few weeks ago, the Lakers have not done much in terms of mining the DLeague and the international market for bench players. It might be time for them to explore those options, rather than signing guys like Xavier Henry, and calling a Henry a gem who might be a finisher off a bolstered bench pretty much speaks for itself. Is it possible that will happen? Sure. But as Darius points out, Henry has never played remotely well in the NBA.

  17. Uh, not sure how this post can be considered one that’s full of hope.

    I have no real problem with the Lakers signing Henry, but unless Henry suddenly improves, the chances are pretty remote that he will be anything close to a viable NBA rotation player this year. That’s the bottom line here. He may be a guy who simply came out too early, like Darius Morris, and might benefit by getting heavy reps in the DLeague.

  18. Baylor Fan,

    Good point. Also, as I noted in the other thread, Henry has not shown the ability either to take or to make the 3, having taken only 45 3s in 1911 minutes, and having made only 13.

  19. @Darius Tasty ice cream? Have you tried Fentons yet? It’s in Oakland/Piedmont. Try the ‘black and tan’ and be prepared for bliss!

    I think that we all know that this year is pretty much a lost season. As long as our current crop of players can regain a bit (or hopefully much in Kobe’s case) of what they lost and not re-injure themselves then the season will be a win. Bring in everyone who has any promise at all and maybe Nash can help find a diamond in the rough.

  20. they only are bringing the guy into camp! they’ll have 19 or 20 guys in camp and 14 oe 15 of them will make the team. Henry’s contract is only partially guaranteed. it’s a good signing if he plays well, it’s harmless if he doesn’t.

    any of these players that the Lakers have just picked up are as good a gamble as any D leaguer. these guys haven’t quite panned out yet and neither have the D leaguers. it’s easy to criticize, if the critic was wrong and his solutions were as bad or worse than the ones that were made by the one being critiqued, the world will never know. just because one person’s ideas didin’t work out, doesn’t mean that the next guy’s ideas are correct. obviously, facts are facts, but people’s interpretation of those facts are sources of confusion.

    i like the FO’s moves this summer. if Dwight was really asking for what it appears that he was asking for, then i’m glad he’s gone. as long as the team competes hard, i’m not mad at them. the last two years, a number of players thought that showing up was giving maximum effort,,,

  21. Seems like a good positive post to me Darius. Last 2 years Lakers had one of the worst benches in the league. If nothing else thus years can be much better and even very good. I clearly am not a PR guy for the Lakers just a 40 year fan with friends who played many years in the NBA.

    I for one like what Mitch has done this summer with little cap room.

  22. For the record,
    It would be nice if the Lakers could ‘mine’ the D-League and overseas players, but they have more knowledge of players knocking around the NBA. Perhaps this should be changed in the future, but we have to play with our current strengths and not just complain because we didn’t get stronger in other areas.

    Our front office has had a philosophy that has been specifically targeted by the current CBA. The adjustments that would need to be made were not obvious – at least to me – and the Laker organization has been trying out different things over the last two years. Our last strategy – signing Dwight Howard and holding off a major restructuring until 2014 – didn’t work out and now we are suddenly totally into the ‘new world’.

    I like that the organization seems to have had a ‘plan B’ when Howard didn’t resign. I also like the approach to this year. I feel we may find one or two players that are worth taking into the future with us and we can build with them in mind – probably as rotation players. What I expect out of our organization is not to spend the next 5-6 years struggling to become reasonable and I think we have a good start toward that.

    Therefore, I am encouraged by next year and look forward to the next leg of our journey – wherever it takes us into the future.

  23. The ice cream quip on twitter was a joke. I’ve been to fenton’s multiple times. Everything there is fantastic.

    I too am fine with the Henry signing, as I’m sure is clear from my post. I still don’t get how this post is somehow construed as expressing hope about Henry as a player. I never mentioned him being a rotation player and pretty clearly stated he’d need to show more than his career norms to make the roster. So, yeah.

  24. “Do not comment about comments or the commenters.”

    That’s wishful thinking. Commenters should prepare to have their ideas challenged. And, when comments get repetitive, they should expect to be called out on that as well since it says in the commenting guidelines that the goal is a discussion and that repeating the same points over and over again is the opposite of a discussion. Not to mention for frequent commenters, it gets old rather quickly to read variations of the same point in every thread (and sometimes multiple times at that).

  25. really and truly, this year’s team is better than last year’s, assuming a healthy Kobe Bryant. that’s what we will have to wait to see. if the twelfth man on the bench needs to be one of the big contributors, it’s likely something has gone terribly wrong. i’m not against the twelfth man stepping up if needed, however. :^D

  26. ‘plan B’

    This is actually Plan D. Plan A was Paul and Howard. Plan B was Nash and Howard. Plan C was persuading Howard to stay even though the team had a bad year and has a shaky future. When you are on Plan D, you are probably in a lot of trouble.

    Getting DLeaguers and international guys are not exotic strategies in today’s NBA and are ways to build up the bottom half of the roster. It is yet another way in which it seems that the Lakers may be behind the times as an organization.

    What the Lakers have done with Johnson and Henry, and to a lesser extent, with Hill; is a variation on something that John Hollinger wrote about a few years ago and called a second draft, which means signing guys who have been busts after their rookie deals are up. It is not a bad strategy, but I don’t see it as being all that clever, or as part of some greater narrative, as a certain faction of posters (who, by the way, repeat themselves as much their antagonists do). appear to.

    Darius,

    Simple questions: how likely do you think it is that Henry will make the team? Be a rotation guy? The post as you worded it gives me the impression that it is pretty much a coin flip. Unless Henry plays far better than he has so far, it isn’t.

  27. If you were to jump back to past AAU showcases and tell scouts they’d one day get to pick from Young, Williams, Johnson and Henry for a mil or less they’d be lining up with cash in hand. Should be a fun training camp.

  28. Dave M
    I think you have the right attitude. I also think training camp will be fun to follow. Who will stick? Will anyone surprise us? What new skills will show up?

    This year I get the feeling all the invites are for a specific reason and not just for practice fodder. We are looking for talent and taking some chances. What this produces is yet to be determined, but I suspect it will increase the chemistry between the players who do make the team. Perhaps another player will be signed to the D-Fenders.

    While we may not be elite, with our core intact we are likely going to make the playoffs, and there is a good probability we will get much stronger as the year progresses. For the grouches, we still have Nash, Pau, and Kobe as our core and that is still not a bad start. Hill, Kaman, Blake, and Farmar are certainly serviceable. After that – let the competition begin.

  29. I like the direction I believe the Lakers are heading into this season. They realize they don’t really have a legit chance of being a serious contender, so go young & cheap. See if any of these guys will be good enough to claim a bench spot in the rebuilding & upcoming “post Kobe-centric Lakers” years.

  30. “Plan D”: rr: your accounting of the plan chronology was of course depressing, but it was also quite accurate.
    ” Commenters should prepare to have their ideas challenged” Of course, and in my case, I welcome that. However, I think the challenges should be about content. For example, BigCity has repetitively made his feelings about Kobe known. I have done the same on the opposite side of the issue. I do not recall BigCity and I ever calling each other names or questioning each other’s fandom because we are polar opposites on Kobe, and that is how it should be. So, if I am a polar opposite to someone on let’s say the subject of Jim Buss, I would expect the same ability for both of us to comment without questioning each other’s sanity or fandom. And yes – repetitiveness I have been guilty of, as have many others.
    “Grouches” vs. People who find this season “Interesting”: When it comes down to it, I do not see that much difference. In my case, I think we “could” make the playoffs if we have a near complete Kobe for a decent chunk of the year. I also think the year could be significantly below 500 if the KB situation and other injuries and such break the wrong way. I think rr and others see things in a similar fashion. I do not see even any of the optimists predicting otherwise. What I see is a slight difference in presentation. Optimist Version: We could do better than expected and make the playoffs and that is “interesting”. Pessimist Version: Well, if we do not get KB back we are in trouble and if we do, we might squeak in. Same results – different expression on face during delivery : )

  31. The post as you worded it gives me the impression that it is pretty much a coin flip.

    “he’s not been able to produce much, on either side of the ball, in his first three years which should be something you remind yourself of if you start to convince yourself the team has signed some sort of contributor. Just look at his career numbers for verification of what he’s been through three seasons. That’s not the end of the story, but it’s a big part of it since it’s what’s actually occurred on the court so far.”

    “Chance is the key word, though. I’m not sure if Henry will even make the team when the dust settles at the end of training camp. As of now, he’s a camp body who will compete with the likes of Elias Harris, Shawne Williams, Ryan Kelly, and (though not yet confirmed) Marcus Landry for a roster spot. If Henry, or any other of the aforementioned guys, can show that they have enough potential to possibly earn some minutes in the long grind of the campaign, they’ll likely stick. If they don’t, they’re likely to be jettisoned with little invested beyond some practice time and whatever partial guarantees may exist on their contract.”

    These are right from the post above and pretty much lay out what I think about Henry as a player and what a “role” might be this next season. Either you missed these sections, ignored them, or interpreted them in ways that imply I think he’s got a chance of doing something I never said.

    It seems you’ve either mistaken my agreeing with the Lakers’ strategy for chasing players *like* Henry for me liking Henry as a contributor, or you’re purposely misstating my position for reasons that only you’d know. Either way, it’d be better if those things weren’t happening.

  32. Robert,

    Partly, but I think the differences are a little more fundamental than that. There have been a few guys here taking about 4th seeds and 50 wins, there has been a lot of optimism about some of the new adds and their potential to help the team. In addition, as I noted, there is a lot of narrative out there–chemistry, redemption, grit, etc.

    But, basically, the Lakers’ best players are all old and/or dealing with injury issues, and other than maybe Farmar, I see no substantive reasons to be particularly optimistic about Young, Johnson, or any of the other adds. Doesn’t mean they were bad signings. Last year’s team was so thin and so old that I can see why people are looking forward to seeing some younger guys out there, and given that Howard was not happy here, I can see why people are looking forward to watching guys who want to wear the purple-and-gold. But when you look at the actual talent on the roster 1-10, and compare it to the competition, I see a lot of problems. And, of course, there are many reasons to be uncomfortable about the leadership.

    The old maxim about how no one knows what will happen is true. But the larger question is the same one that I asked Darius about Xavier Henry (which he really didn’t answer): based on what we know now, what is more likely–a 31-51 kind of team, or a 49-33 kind of team? I think it is pretty clearly the former. That’s the point, and when you add that to the massive uncertainty about the future and the dearth of draft picks, I think the picture becomes clearer still.

  33. Add to post stuck in mod: Johnson did play decently given minutes down the stretch, which was why I brought him up. So that is one reason.

  34. Re: RR, Henry and ‘bolstered bench’

    The idea is not to be misconstrued as being hopeful for Henry to become anything more than a bench guy. I guess the idea is closer to him being cut before guaranteed season comes over, but things like Linsanity and Clarksanity happens too. Guess who is the coach for both those events?

    Again, let me point this out in a straightforward manner. Do I hope Xavier Henry, a lottery pick from 3 seasons ago becomes a gem? Yes. Why not? Anyone that cheers for the Lakers does. But do I believe that that will happen, that’s where I hope he would but if I’m a betting man, and I am, won’t bet on that happening.

    Jeremy Lin and Earl Clark were run-of-the-mill players prior to their breakout seasons under D’Antoni. Whether you like it or not, he was the coach responsible for their success and contracts now. Are they flukes or will they hold? I don’t know. But all I know that there is reason and evidence to support that those 2 ‘gems’ aren’t just pure luck.

    As for the others, pardon me. I didn’t mean to post about myself. I just wanted a chance to clarify (for those who do not know me well enough) that I am in no way, shape or form a Lakers PR guy.

  35. Craig,

    I also think the invites are specifically targeted. There’s going to be a high level of competition in the midsection of the lineup. There’s a number of tweener players that cluster between the 2,3 and 4. For the sake of discussion I lump some of the recent signs that may have a bit more money guaranteed on their contracts, with those that will be classic camp step deals. The difference in dollars isn’t huge. Young’s more of a natural 2 but he can play the 3 and that’s an obvious need position. Johnson’s a natural 3. Williams is a swing 3/4 and played a lot of PF in NYC. Elias Harris played mostly at the 4 in college. He’s only 6-8 but he’s about 240 and solid – he can definitely back guys down. At the various draft combines Harris said he was working at his 3 skills because that’s the slot that most teams would be evaluating him for. As Darius mentions in his post, Henry also has positional flexibility. And then there’s Landry who’s one of those classic undersized, super hard working forwards and Kelly, who if his foot heals properly, is a classic stretch 4. Plus, there’s enough room on the roster to hang onto about 5 of above group through the season.

  36. Somehow this discussion got sidetracked into a referendum on Xavier Henry. I don’t think that that was Darius’s intention at all. The signing of Xavier Henry is not about Xavier Henry. Instead that signing points to a larger STRATEGY that the front office seems to be pursuing, namely, the signing of players 22-28 years of age all of whom have something to prove.

    Think about it. What does Jordan Farmar have to prove? Quite a bit. He has to prove 1) that he has matured since his days as a Laker and can run an offense, 2) that he can play 20-25 minutes a game without driving the coach to distraction, 3) that he can play perimeter defense and at least slow down the premier point guards in the league, and 4) that he is the Laker point guard of the future.

    How about Jordan Hill (although he wasn’t a recent signee)? He, too has a lot to prove. 1) Can he be more than a 15 minute per game player? 2) Can he start and be a defensive force for 30+ minutes a game? 3) Can he hit the outside shot? 4) Can Kobe and Pau have confidence in him? 5) Can he be the Lakers’ version of Serge Ibaka?

    Wes Johnson is another case in point. 1) Can he justify having been a #4 selection in the NBA draft a few years ago? 2) Can he start, possibly, and contribute–offensively and defensively–over the course of an entire year? 3) Is he ever going to be more than a marginal player? More than another bust who never should have been drafted as high as he was? 4) Can he be the lock-down perimeter defender that the Lakers so desperately need?

    I could easily go on. In fact, I could write volumes on what Nick Young has to prove. The point, then, is that the signing of Xavier Henry simply is an indication of a larger Strategy of signing 20-something players who were all once highly regarded and have–so far–fallen short of expectations. If one–or even two–end up having break out seasons, then the Strategy will have worked.

    It might work. Or it might not. In any event, the risk will have been minimal.

    Training camp is 3 weeks away. Let’s see what happens.

  37. ” asked Darius about Xavier Henry (which he really didn’t answer)”

    The question you asked in your comment was whether or not I thought Henry would 1) make the team and 2) be a rotation player. Both of those were clearly answered in the excerpts from my comment above. So, again, either you’re choosing to ignore what I wrote or aren’t understanding it. Either way that’s on you.

  38. rr,

    To be honest with you, the international players are not suitable to fill the rest of our bench. How can I explain this… There are certainly players in Europe (european-born) who could start or have a significant role in today’s NBA. However, those players play fo the best teams in Europe and they won’t be attracted by the NBA minimum salary or even a rookie salary if they’re not picked high enough in the lottery. Since the Lakers don’t have those high picks, they won’t convince anyone to come here, no matter how good their international scouting department is (and I don’t think it’s that good to begin with).

    I actually think people should watch Eurobasket (we’re in day 3) and whenever they find a good enough player who’s not in the NBA, try to check for which team they play. With luck, you may even learn their salary… You would be surprised ;) And some of them don’t want to be role players and prefer to be prolific scoreers in a less athleti league that pays well enough. Remember Dejan Bodiroga? Never played in the NBA…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQEzmPKdqt4

  39. “I could easily go on. In fact, I could write volumes on what Nick Young has to prove.”

    I’ll save you the time, or the temptation to make the time, since someone already did the write up:

    http://deadspin.com/5952156/deadspin-nba-shit-list-1-nick-young-who-is-the-devil

    Works for me, though, since I’m in the 20-62 camp.

  40. I hope Henry pans out and does well too, but the biggest non A or B list signing seemed to go under the radar. Farmar in a role like Barbosa had with Phoenix can be lethal. People forget Farmar was actually the player Chalmers is now save for the man to man defense. He got to the rim, made 3s, passed well and had dependable defense. Wasn’t as consistent as us fans liked but Kobe staying on him got him more focused. And that was in his 3rd and 4th season. Now being older and having ran a team overseas he is much better. He has 6th man potential and possibly an ability to become what Lamar was to the bench a few years back. I’d put the Farmar signing up there with the Jrue to the Pelicans trade which got far more pub. In the end Henry, Williams, Harris, Landry, Kelly really aren’t anything more than bodies for competitive practices. It was Farmar, Young, Johnson and Kaman for what they got them for. I do Landry and Williams can be lethal from deep and Harris develops further but none of us are expecting them to become nightly contributors.

  41. I ran into Mark Jackson in Calabasas and I told him he had a good young team and that Curry is a beast and Barnes could be in the future. I then informed him that I was a fan of the Lakers and he said, “I’m sorry to hear that!”

    I said, “No don’t be! We’re in a down year but we’ll be back!”

    So I take it that’s the sentiment around the league. I hope the players that make the team, do something to bring the Lakers reputation back. Go out and play to prove the naysayers wrong!

    Go Lakers

  42. Either way that’s on you.

    ___

    We can agree to disagree on this one. I could simplify the question further for you by putting a number thing on it (on a scale of 1-10, how likely do you think it is that Xavier Henry becomes a rotation player at some point this year) but you seem to think you have answered it.

    The thing is that predictions, be they about players, or teams, are, obviously, simply educated guesses based on quantitative and qualitative data.

    For example, in the case of Farmar, his stats spiked some in NJ, but it appears that some of that was based on shooting percentages that are unsustainable. OTOH, as has been noted many times, his skillset fits pretty well with what MDA likes to do, so there is a qualititive basis for thinking that he might have a nice performance spike.

    Regarding Henry, I don’t really see the evidence on either the quantitative or qualitative sides that he is likely to do much to help the team if he gets a chance. He did not show some improvement, like Wesley Johnson did, when he got some burn in PHX. There is nothing that he does well that shows up in the numbers, and as Baylor Fan pointed out, you need shooters for MDA ball and Henry appears to be a brick machine.

    Does this mean that signing him was a mistake? No. But it is worth noting and factoring in.

  43. Renato,

    Although I referred to Henry specifically, I was talking more about the general pattern than about the Henry signing in particular. Back when Jerry West got Vlade Divac, it was a forward-thinking move, and it contributed to a huge payoff. The Lakers’ recent foreign draftees have been guys like Cheikh Samb and Ater Majok.

    I think that one recent lesson of the Houston Rockets is that almost every move may matter. Going into last season, the Rockets were seen as a being a well-run team, but also as sort of like a hamster on a treadmill. But they were able to leverage assets into Harden, and Harden was one of the main reasonsthat they got Howard. So I suppose I would say that I don’t think we can be sure that any move is in the no harm, no foul category.

  44. Same question, Warren, except about the team: what do you think is more likely for the Lakers, a 30-33 win season, or a 45-50 win season?

  45. just wanted a chance to clarify (for those who do not know me well enough) that I am in no way, shape or form a Lakers PR guy.

    ___

    Again: your background has nothing to do with my point. I know you live in the Phillipines, and I know that you do not work for the Lakers.

  46. Pretty sure this dude is just trolling now.

    __

    And you’re wrong.

  47. we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    Disagree on what, exactly? I’ve basically called Henry a fringe player who may not even make the team. Meanwhile, you’re sitting here asking me a question — and seriously, at that — what number I place on him becoming a rotation player. Based off what I’ve said, that’s not even a question worth asking. He’s, what, the 7th perimeter player on the team heading into camp? I mean, count Kobe, Blake and Farmar (who MDA have both said can play SG), Meeks, Young, and Johnson for sure. Add in the versatility that Harris and Williams bring (who can both play some SF) and Henry is on the outside looking in right now. So, AGAIN, where is the misunderstanding? At this point it seems like you’re arguing for arguing sake and this is the last I’ll say on this. Jeez.

  48. And you’re wrong.

    Quite the ego to think that a random tweet is about you. But, okay. Ha.

  49. With regards to the terms ‘educated guess’ and ‘quantitative + qualitative data’ … did any of those ever support Lin-Sanity or Earl Clark? The fact that they both made names under Mike D’Antoni coming from utterly nowhere and had no evidence whatsoever to support that they would have the kind of season/stretch they had.

    Once is happenstance… twice is coincidence?

    The fact that unlikely things happen is why the game is played. There is simply nothing guaranteed. For all we know, Lebron James might suddenly suffer a devastating injury. I do not hope that nor wish that, but that’s something of a game-changer if it does happen.

    When the Lakers drafted Kobe, Jerry West took a chance. He couldn’t have guessed Kobe would become the best Laker ever. He had Eddie Jones starting at the 2 to pair with Shaq. Those who knew Eddie would appreciate what he gave for the team. However, a year later, he had to go because Kobe needed to shine. The rest as they say is history.

    In summary, I wish points were taken in context rather than being butchered in excerpts and being answered/questioned in a vacuum.

    This is seriously too much post for Xavier Henry. This is more than Pau Gasol ever gets.

  50. Warren, this is a little off topic, but I always wondered why we traded Jones for Glen Rice. I’m sure he would’ve made a better SF playing alongside Kobe. Sure, Rice spaces the floor better, but Eddie was the better overall player with much better longevity, especially towards the end of their respective careers.

    It always makes me wonder what could have been, and how many more championships could’ve been won potentially (i.e. 2003, when both of our SF’s went down in the playoffs due to injuries). I mean, Rice was basically only useful for 2000.

  51. Quite the ego to think that a random tweet is about you

    ___

    Well, the previous one, about “reading comprehension”, certainly seemed to be about me, unless you were in simultaneous disputes with two different people over the clarity of something that you wrote at the exact same time. And, you have complained about our disagreements on your Twitter account before. But sure, there may have been some guy “trolling” you on Twitter or elsewhere at that moment. I actually thought better of posting that after doing so and requested that it be deleted through the site console.

    As to Henry, you didn’t really distinguish between him and several other guys in this excerpt, and my guess is that Landry, Harris, or Williams will wind up getting time this year and I think it is pretty certain that two of them will make the team:

    “As of now, he’s a camp body who will compete with the likes of Elias Harris, Shawne Williams, Ryan Kelly, and (though not yet confirmed) Marcus Landry for a roster spot. If Henry, or any other of the aforementioned guys, can show that they have enough potential to possibly earn some minutes in the long grind of the campaign, they’ll likely stick. If they don’t, they’re likely to be jettisoned with little invested beyond some practice time and whatever partial guarantees may exist on their contract.”

    And,of course, while as you note the backcourt is crowded, we don’t know when Kobe will be able to play. Henry might be backing up Nick Young at the 2 on opening night if he has a good camp; I can see Farmar playing some off-ball, but MDA should not use Blake and Nash together if he wants to help the D.

    Warren,

    WRT Lin and Clark, it is important to realize that D’Antoni played both of them only after he really had no other options, so it would be just as easy to argue that those cases are a ding against MDA and that he should have gotten them on the floor sooner.

    Also, Lin, prior to getting his shot in NY, had only 285 NBA minutes–far, far fewer than Wesley Johnson or even Xavier Henry, and Lin was decent in those minutes, posting a 14.8 PER. He did have his best run under MDA, but some of that may have been sample size and some of it was a massive USG.

    Clark is a better comp, and I think it is possible that Wesley Johnson can be a 3 version of what Clark was: a low-usage 12-13 PER guy, who can help the D. That is why I brought up Johnson, long before they signed him, to begin with.

    Finally, Jordan Hill is going to be a key guy if the Lakers are going to be competitive, and MDA has never liked either Hill or his game. I think it is possible that MDA will wind up playing Shawne Williams as much as he plays Hill.

  52. This is seriously too much post for Xavier Henry.

    Agreed .. Especially if one was to take into consideration that he probably won’t even make the team.

  53. The rr impersonator:

    I ran into Mark Jackson in Calabasas…

    ________________

    I doubt you actually “ran” into Mark Jackson in Calabasas. You were most probably walking and happened to see him nearby. I bet you didn’t even bump him, which would justify putting “into” in this sentence. If advanced metrics were applied to everyday conversation–which I am in complete favor of–we would be more accurate in our everyday speech and say things like “I was walking north at a 2.3 mph pace in a crowded restaurant full of rich people when suddenly I saw Mark Jackson and decided to head over to him. So I changed direction and started to walk north-west and went 14.7 ft and stopped exactly 2.4 ft from Mark Jackson. But I guess he’s gotten even fatter than the last time I saw him on TV because his gravity pull pulled me a little closer, .02 ft to be exact, and so I ended up 2.38 ft away from him.”

    So now that we have cleared that up, we can touch on your next error:

    …and I told him he had a good young team…

    __________________

    The Warriors are not a young team. They have been around since 1946. They are an old team with young guys in it. Let’s be exact here. We are trying to have a serious discussion.

    (rr sits in front of his laptop, shaking head with a big smile on his face, thinking to himself “these people…” and then raises both fists in the air, yelling “I am better than Aaroooooon!” His mother hears this and becomes concerned. She asks, “Sweety, who are you talking to?”)

  54. The Aaron impersonator:

    “I am better than Aaroooooon!”
    ____________

    In your dreams pal.

  55. Well, the previous one, about “reading comprehension”, certainly seemed to be about me

    Again, quite the ego to think a random tweet is about you. I follow over 600 people on twitter and have over 20K followers. I also read countless articles & dive into the comment sections a fair amount of time. Sorry to say, man, but just because I’m having a discussion on here doesn’t mean I get on twitter and continue it. Not everything is about you.

  56. Simonoid,
    Eddie Jones thought he should be starting and the Lakers really had to make a choice. While it is certainly not an exact comparison, they also had to make a choice with Fish when Sessions came here. The chemistry on the team was strained with both Eddie Jones and Kobe Bryant on the team. Eddie was young enough and good enough that he felt he shouldn’t have to step aside for Kobe. It was in this vein that Eddie had a conflict with some management.

  57. Craig W.,

    I was thinking along the lines of Kobe at the 2 and Eddie at the 3, that way they can both start. There might’ve been less fluidity between positions back in those days, but I can still see that combination working.

  58. Simonoid,
    I understand your thinking, but positions were a bit less flexible then and Eddie thought of himself as a SG and not a SF. It wasn’t that it couldn’t work, but more that the players and coaches resisted the change more. Mike D’Antoni changed more than we normally give him credit for when he reorganized the Phoenix Suns. S. Marion as a 4 was a revolutionary idea when first implemented.

  59. Glen Rice was an all-star MVP, elite 3 point shooter. When you have Shaq as a center, that’s the kind of skillset you want to put around him. What wasn’t apparent was that Glen was on his last legs, played no defense, and his offensive contribution was limited by Shaq and Kobe shooting the ball (and no one knew how much they would). Plus Phil Jackson (in his first outing with the team) stressed defense first, leading to Glen losing minutes to Rick Fox. To top it off, Glen bitched about having to sit in 4th quarters and his wife made it public.
    Jackson was able to get his favourite big guard veteran (“retreads:) in due to playing slow it down Triangle; many of them wouldn’t have fit in on other styles, coaches or eras. Elite 3 point shooting, a dynamic swingman and a dominant center are a tried and tested formula for getting to the top, irrespective of style.

    So much of this trade/value loss became apparent only in hindsight.

    Eddie Jones was an All-Star and All-defense player. His skills were replicated by Kobe; just not as high. Being a young AllStar, he would have had expectations in terms of salary & starting minutes that could have led to possible issues later. He wasn’t a special favourite of Shaq’s and he had issues as a closer/finisher ( I’ve heard it said that he needed more stamina/lift weights)

    You can’t really regret this portion. Now why Elden Campbell AND Eddie …

  60. Whatever, Pal! It was a colloquial post!

    Glad I grabbed your attention long enough for you to dissect my post. LOL!

  61. I’ve always wondered if FBnG would move to a forum type of format rather than wordpress. In that manner, guests/commenters/members could hit topics and ‘quote’ something and reply to it without having to wonder if its for them or not. Some members just assume its for them.

    That would also result to replies on topics that are older than the current one, people would know if someone posted on a topic.

    Not an expert on these parts, just thought I’d bring up the idea if in case it fit.

  62. Warren,

    That’s a good point, but I just copy and paste and put the little line in when I want to respond directly to someone. And AFAIK, site changes like that are pretty time-consuming.

  63. Its not within my ability to put one up, we just use a free forum from jcink for our sim leagues and just use those. Helps alot filtering the troll ip addresses and pointing out aspects of a certain post you wish to respond to. I dunno how to use wordpress even though I have my little diary over there.

    Again just an option.

  64. Again, quite the ego to think a random tweet is about you.

    _____________

    Not an ego thing at all–just a simple inference. And, as noted, you have complained about interaction issues from the site on your Twitter feed before.

    But I’ll take your word for it; looking over your Twitter feed, it seems that with your personality and your level of internet activity, you are going to be in a lot of snarky exchanges with different people. I’ll account for that next time.

  65. Warren,

    I have read your stuff a few times, BTW. Interesting.

  66. With your personality…

    I respond to people who infer things about me or my writing that I disagree with or are incorrect. Mostly I ignore the silly things, however. I should have done so this time as well and saved the time.

  67. Warren,
    I’ve considered changing the comment interface to a system where direct replies are possible, resulting in threaded conversations. I’ve not gone that route, however, and am not sure I ever will. I doubt I’ll ever institute a forum in the classic sense, though. Those can be time consuming to maintain and time is what I do not have enough of.

  68. Darius,

    Please don’t change in to that format. The main goal is to have a basketball discussion on the topic you chose. When people start taking jabs at one another I just scroll down to the next reply and to the next until I find something I want to read. It has been working perfectly for years…

  69. Yeah I know the intricacies of running a threaded forum for a site might be time-consuming and you’re gonna need mods on there to help out on that task of filtering, controlling ,etc. Like a RealGM of sorts.

    While I like that setup I confer that ‘this’ setup has more of a “bloggy” feel than that.

  70. I think this year will be fun. No pressure or expectations and a lot of young guys who will work hard to re establish or establish themselves as legit contributors on a NBA team. My hope for the season is that we surprise people and Nash and Blake gain some value so we can trade them. I love Nash but can’t have him next to Kobe as the starting PG. we need a defensive PG that can shoot the 3. Maybe a Lowry next season. Would keep Nash off the bench but he’s too expensive. So maybe someone takes a chance to win , ie Indiana, and trades for Nash. Hopefully we can get a young player or pick from someone. Toronto maybe. Either way ,this season is a transition year and hopefully we get lucky ala Shannon Trevor and Hill with one of these young guys . We have a 1st round pick next year and cap space. Can rebuild quickly. Remember to get a real coach next year also.