Lakers Fill Out Roster, Sign Xavier Henry, Wes Johnson, and Ryan Kelly

Darius Soriano —  July 18, 2014

Earlier in the day Friday the Lakers waived Kendall Marshall, simultaneously creating some cap space but also creating an extra roster spot to fill. The team wasted little time in filling Marshall’s vacated spot, and more, inking some familiar faces to contracts:

Let’s go in order here.

Signing Xavier Henry was really a no-brainer for the Lakers. Of all their gambles on reclamation projects last season, it was Henry who looked like the most capable two-way player of the bunch. Though his two point percentage was nothing to write home about (41.7%), Henry shot a respectable 34.6% from behind the arc while also shooting 7 free throw attempts per 36 minutes. This output shows a nice mix of jump shooting range and an ability to get to the rim that can be the basis of a solid offensive player. Add to this Henry’s ability to defend either wing position and he’s a nice buy low candidate for the second consecutive season with only a minimum salaried contract investment.

While Henry was a natural player to bring back, I can’t necessarily say the same about Wes Johnson. Don’t get me wrong, Johnson had his moments on both sides of the floor at times proving to be a capable shooter (36.6% from behind the arc) and open court finisher while also flashing some good games on the defensive glass and a wing defender. His athleticism tantalized all year and there were times he looked like he could carve out a niche as a 3 and D player. However, like his career up to the point that he joined the Lakers, Johnson also showed an overall lack of consistency and remained a player who was over-reliant on his athletic gifts to succeed. If I could summarize Johnson in one sentence, he’s a player who makes more good athletic plays that good basketball ones. Even for the best athletes, you want that to be the opposite. This doesn’t make Johnson a bad signing — for the minimum there is rarely such a thing. But I can’t say I’m excited to have him back or that I envision him making a big leap forward this upcoming season.

Kelly, meanwhile, probably is the guy I wanted back the most and am happy that the team was able to secure him. The fact that his deal will, reportedly, be for two seasons without any options is also a bonus. Yes, Kelly need to improve his man to man defense and work on the defensive glass. And, yes, he also needs to get stronger and find ways to build up his frame to be a more reliable two way player who can play from the paint to the three point line on both ends. But even with these weaknesses, he flashes a complete offensive game that, for a player his size, is a real asset for any team. While it was not reflected in his percentages, Kelly has range to the three point line, a good enough handle to bring the ball up the floor and beat closeouts off the dribble, and enough feel to be a passer off the bounce, when working at the elbows in HORNS sets and when coming off screens when defenders blitz him. And, since he’s a legitimate 6’10”, he can take smaller defenders into the post and get good looks against single coverage. Will he ever be more than a role player? That seems doubtful, but every team needs good role players and he has the skill set to be just that.

All in all, this was a good day for the Lakers. They signed three players who gained valuable experience last season and who, in well defined roles can bring minutes to the team. These guys are not world beaters and there’s a reason they could be had for cheap (though, I’d imagine Kelly’s contract will exceed what Johnson and Henry got). But they do help the Lakers fill out their roster and bring some institutional knowledge with them, hopefully carrying over some of that familiarity to better results this year.

Darius Soriano

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29 responses to Lakers Fill Out Roster, Sign Xavier Henry, Wes Johnson, and Ryan Kelly

  1. Like Jelly and Henry.

    Johnson has had enough shots and will be sitting all year.

  2. Would’ve preferred Aminu to Wes. Why not give him a shot?

  3. Like Jelly and Henry.

    Johnson has had enough shots and will be sitting all year.nn
    P

  4. Geez now I am double posting.
    Senile

  5. Johnson is a pretty good wing defender and showed that he can hit the 3. Im actually am pretty happy to have him back and I think he provides good depth as a guy that can play at the 2,3, and 4. We’re likely to see him in a suit more often than not, but if he adds some aggression to his game he can be a more than adequate rotational guy

  6. Great news about Kelly, for all the reasons mentioned in the article. If he gets playing time, I think he has the potential to surprise a lot of people (in a positive way).

  7. All good signings, keeping things cheap while maintaining flexibility. X and R-Kelly are definitely keeper material heading forward. I want to believe we got a steal in wes while also believing he has the highest ceiling but something is just not clicking with him. He has all of the tools; athleticism, nice shooting form, and doesn’t seem to disrupt locker room chemistry (haven’t heard of him ever having the antics a lance Stephenson does). I wonder why he can’t put it all together… Maybe Kobe can instill a kill or be killed attitude.

  8. So by my count that’s 12 under contract. 13 counting Clarkson. A couple of Summer League guys to round it out? Kane? Do they just carry 13 (I would think that’s probable).

    Thoughts?

  9. yeah, i wish kane will be signed and okafor as well

  10. What about Clarkson is he sign?

  11. All we need now is a legit 7-footer to round out the roster

    Bynum, okafor, or even Kane will do…

    Now I Wish we had signed Monroe or lance instead of Hill,

    Go lakers!!

  12. If it is possible to stretch Nash and use any financial savings and apply it to a legit center, I would make that move in a heartbeat.

  13. Actually feel good about these most recent signings. None are world beaters, but all are decent players, although Johnson is an enigma. So talented, but there’s a disconnect there. If only HE believed in himself!

  14. is there enough capspace left to sign clarkson to a 3 or 4 yr parsons style contract?

  15. Well, if folks are seeing Johnson as an “in a suit” / end-of-bench guy, then doesn’t that mean they’re a better team than last year, since Johnson got playing time last year?

    Of course … “better than LAST year “…. guess they call that ‘damning with faint praise’ …

    Still we have a nice collection, even nicer than last year (Boozer aside) of young talent. Which is fun to watch develop.

  16. Clarkson is a second round rookie, as such his salary is minimal unlike his game and his potential. Would like to have seen Bazemore stay, but anyone who chooses to go to the Hawks doesn’t deserve to play for the Purple and Gold. I’d take Marshon Brooks over him now. A legit Center is needed. I’ll take Ryan Hollins to compliment Davis. Help Defense is his best asset. We can always use that. The Clips signed Hawes and are bringing Big Baby back so he will become available.

  17. I would rather have a couple guys from their summer team. T Thompson can fill it up. Trevor Mbawake can rebound and play very good D at 6-10 and Roscoe Smith led Lakers summer team at rebounding plays very good d is active and can score. Like these guys more than some other signings.

  18. The problem with Wes Johnson is that he was brought in as a first round lottery pick to be the savior of the wolves. His game is very nice he just didn’t live up to that and because this is the NBA wherevere else he’s gone, he hasn’t had time or a necessary roll to develop. If he knows his minutes, his role, where he will get his shots, he’s an excellent player with a very high ceiling. He can be a difference maker on defense and actually has a nice pull up game in the mid range, I think playing for D’antoni was the worst thing that could have happened for his career haha, still young, his athleticism will keep him on a roster, but here’s to hoping he gets some structure and a good coach to develop his game a little bit. I’m really happy the Lakers kept these 3 players along with swaggy. They were definitely the most positive and consistent of the bunch and each player brings something different. Henry and Johnson add athleticism and Kelly brings spacing and shooting and rebounding. Overall good summer for the Lakers definitely upgraded the roster, brought in a star of the future for us to root for, still have kobe, got to be satisfied as a Laker fan. Would have loved to get Melo or Stephenson but having this flexibility when Durant and Love and the next class comes due will be worth it. I honestly don’t mind kobe playing 30-33mpg, Randle Developing, the Lakers getting the 12th spot and a solid first rounder, Lets be honest this team is not competing for the championship and would sneak into the playoffs as a 7th or 8th if kobe was in god mode and other teams had injuries. You can’t realistically expect them to be better than the Warriors, clippers, Spurs, Dallas, Houston, Portland, OKC, …..just don’t see it.

  19. still can’t get my head around young and hill. I don’t think there were teams that would have paid as much to get either of them; reminds me of Walton signing where he was definitely worth something, just not that much.

    as for the other signings, i’m all for bargains to players who want to get themselves on the map. kinda worried how that would affect team play, but since they also need some reputation, don’t really think that will be a problem…

  20. Hopefully these 3 guys make the most of their opportunity in a new system. They all have potential. It’s going to be another tough season but it will be nice to see how the team and the individual players develop and gel together. Sadly the play-offs are a long-shot.

  21. We will definitely be better than houston – dallas is a maybe but yeah we wont make the playoffs

  22. Anyone else having issues with their IP being blocked? All things considered…I think Mitch did a pretty decent job of filling out the roster. I’m not on board with the Boozer pick up, especially if he takes minutes away from Randle. Now we just need to find a trade partner for Nash and we’re gtg.

  23. bleedpurplegold July 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

    So Wirth our last moves beging made, lets break it down

    PG – Lin, Clarkson, Nash
    Two young guys With nash mentoring them, i linke what i saw from Clarkson at SL, and lin is a decent NBA player who will only geht better with Nash and Kobe teaching him…..lin will be our Starter Here, i can See an upgrade in both ends with him, he knows how To create for him and for others as well as how Tod keep guards in Front oft him….devensively i would habe prefered farmar, but that ship has sailed…

    Wingers – Kobe, Henry, Young, Johnson
    With the mamba even at 80-90%, wie still have one oft the primere SG in the game offensively, unfortunately hes not AS great as he was in the defensive end….but i think if defense will be need, we can put Henry and/or Johnson out there, great 2-way-players who still got a lot oft potential and can shoot the three To space the floor, which will open up driving lanes for lin and give our bigs room to operate….i linke the flexibility there as well, Kobe and young can take over at an time if needed while the others can bring in defense and give us stops

    Bigs – Boozer, Ed Davis, R-Kelly, Randle, Hill
    Hell i like our front court, perhaps the most talented one in the league if u ask me….u got boozer, who is basically a walking double double given the minutes….i know he Had a down year, but with bis soft touch Form mild range and his skills in the post, he can score in man ways…..he will alsogive is around 8-10 rbs per, and a huge body down low, i know he isnt great defensively, but still wigh bis power and size someone you have To respect….and despite what some of u said, at 3mill he is a real BARGAIN!!! Hill is an anchor With his energy and athleticism, i expect him to Start alongside boozer, give us defense and 2 blks a nicht, clean up the glass and give us 6-10pts per on putbacks alone…randle is still very raw, i See loads of potential in him, just not Starter Material yet….he can give us scoring from the bench and a few Rebounds…..ed brings us activity in Both ends and Kelly will be a stretch 4, but i can See Kelly improving To an even bigger role if he puts some weight on….

    All in all i like our chances to get to the Playoffs…….i think we have a potent team on both ends, but our versitility on O will be what gets us in the playoffs

  24. Kelly-yes. Who knows, he may fill out a bit and become a Matt Bonner type..
    Johnson-either way. Flexible at the 2-3-4, can hit a three.
    Henry-a mystery. Flashes of brilliance last year, can he play without MDA’s “system” ?
    Nick Young-wish they’d let him walk. Good shooter, but too clownish for me.
    Boozer-give him a chance, may be able to spell the young guys, put up some points.
    Kane-No room.
    Clarkson-Diamond in the rough, will learn from Lin, Nash, and Kobe. He couldn’t be in a better situation…
    J. Hill-Had to overpay a bit, but need him.

  25. Still room for another PG or C. Really need to get a HC and coaching staff together as soon as possible. I have a feeling that come Nov,some of the combinations are ones that haven`t been touched upon yet,given all the possibilities. Hope Randle and Clarkson put in the hard work they need between now and Oct. Curious about about the condition of Kobe and Nash.

  26. sign Bynum and take another chance on him.

  27. Kelly deserved another chance after what he showed as a rookie. Henry showed enough upside when healthy to get another look. Johnson has incredible athleticism and was fun to watch, but he did not use his strengths (athleticism) enough and would frequently fire away from the arc. He better have shot 1,000 jumpers a day this summer if that is how he is going to model his game. What he showed last season was not enough. I would have liked to see the Lakers bring in a defensive player such as Al-Farouq Aminu.

  28. if Bynum was healthy, he’d be in New York. Wesley Johnson is much better than Al Farouq Aminu, just needs a solid system and solid role and understanding of the team, O ‘antoni really didn’t enable players like Hill, Johnson, basically anyone to know their role and perform, if you recall in the beginning of the year when the Lakers jumped out to a 8-8 record and beat west powerhouses like the GSW and Clips Johnson was playing very very well. As soon as the Lakers went into tank mode after kobe went down his minutes and production fell off. He’s a great value for the Lakers and being around kobe and knowing the Lakers see something in him is all positive.