Report: Lakers Sign Vander Blue to a Partially Guaranteed Deal

Darius Soriano —  July 29, 2017

While there were reports that the Lakers were likely done signing free agents, the team has reportedly picked up a familiar name:

First, I’m happy for Blue. He’s been with the Lakers in some way — either with the big team or their G-League affiliate — since 2015. Last year, he was the league MVP. He’s played for their summer league team multiple times and after his exploits in Vegas this past month in helping the team to the LVSL championship, he openly spoke about wanting to catch on with the Lakers and get his shot in the NBA. It seems he’ll get his shot to try to stick this fall.

Make no mistake, though, I see this as exactly that — a shot. The Lakers have 14 players signed to a contract and I would imagine they’d want either keep that spot open into the season to maintain roster flexibility or wait until close to the end of camp to sign someone who impresses. Maybe that’s Blue, but maybe it’s not.

Further, I would not be surprised if the nature of Blue’s deal is more like a “make good” contract where the guarantee is for some nice, but small amount — essentially paying him extra for coming to camp. Remember, training camp rosters can swell to 20 players and the Lakers typically use every last spot in order to get extended looks at guys and then to maintain some “rights” on them should they decide to cut them and send them to the now rebranded South Bay Lakers. This could easily be their fall back plan with Blue if he doesn’t do enough to impress them nor enough to catch on with another team based on his camp and preseason performance.

That said, Blue is an interesting player who has NBA level talent. He’s a natural scorer who has some playmaking skill — though not great instincts in that area. He’s clearly a shoot first, pass second (or, really, third) type of guy; which is fine, it’s just he needs to mix in more passing and show more willingness to defer when playing at the NBA level.

That said, I was impressed with Blue as summer league went on in this area and in other aspects of his game as well. After coming out in pure gunner mode in the Lakers’ 1st game, he started to come around later in the tournament, dishing out a few assists each night to go along with his aggressive scoring tendencies. He flashed a nice enough jumper (connecting on 40% of his 3’s) and showed off a nice first step and shake in the open court in order to get to the rim. Once there, he displayed good body control and an ability to finish through contact.

All in all, he was a strong offensive player who proved he could get buckets in Vegas. Though, after his MVP season in the minors, this really wasn’t in question much. Still, though, having him play as well as he did should mean something. And, it apparently has with the Lakers wanting to get a longer look. We’ll see how it goes, but, again, I’m happy for him. Considering the Lakers depth on the wing he could just surprise come September and October.


If the $50K guarantee is accurate, I’m even more inclined to believe that Blue is more of a “camp invite” than a guy who is primed to make this roster before heading into camp. Of course he could always play himself onto the team with a strong camp, but even with the Lakers depth concerns on the wing, I would imagine the team would still look to players already on the roster to fill a need rather than Blue.

I should also add that the $50K guarantee is also an indicator that the team could be looking at Blue for the team’s 2nd two-way contract or that the Lakers really do want him to play for the South Bay Lakers should he not make the main team. Per Larry Coon, that amount is the most he could be guaranteed and still play for the SBL:

A Two-Way player’s salary may be guaranteed for no more than $50,000, which is pro-rated if he signs after the start of the season. If a player is waived from a standard NBA contract with a guarantee greater than $50,000, then for the rest of that season he cannot play for that team’s D-League affiliate or sign a Two-Way contract with any team.

It’s nice to have this clarity about Blue’s contract. And while it may not pave a great path for him to make the main roster, I wish him the best of luck in his pursuit of a full time NBA gig.

Darius Soriano

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to Report: Lakers Sign Vander Blue to a Partially Guaranteed Deal

  1. I wonder if he is one of the people they are thinking about to assign to a two way contract after they have had training camp. This would just be another good way rewarding someone who has stuck with the same program the whole time. And it would allow us to use him in case that trade comes that gets rid of JC.


  2. Worth mentioning the Lakers are holding open a second two-way contract. Vander Blue will either end up as the 15th man or on that two-way, is my guess.


  3. I could see Vander Blue as a viable backup to Jordan Clarkson—were he injured–and a possible replacement if he were traded.


    • Thomas Wallace July 29, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      No. Lakers will not out a shoot first offensive guy on a two way contract. They will put someone who could come up and guard people. Personally I don’t see Blue making the team at all. He’s exactly the type of player the Lakers are trying to get away from. ISO players with little or no D and limited desire to pass. Even offensively he’s not a 3pt shooter , he’s a volume scorer. Look for Lakers to watch for someone from another team they liked but couldn’t get.


  4. Dr Ray,
    I beg to differ about Vander Blue being a substitute for J Clarkson in any way. Blue has played less than 100 career NBA minutes and none of the other 29 teams have been falling over themselves trying to sign him, as far as I know.
    Just because he’s a laker (barely) doesn’t mean he’s anything other than an extremely marginal player, at best.


    • R,

      There are similarities to Clarkson. He’s about the same size, same age, comes from Marquette (vs. Missouri), and, as we saw this summer, has a similar shoot first game with weak defense. His 3 point shooting has improved from less than .200 to .400 since leaving college. He’s come close with two other NBA programs before the Lakers. After two years with the Defenders, he’s Laker ready.

      Why would the Lakers ever consider him as a substitute for Clarkson? I can think of almost 12,000,000 reasons.


      • Heh heh – we’ll see.


      • Blue shot .416 from 3 in 2014-15, but his career 3P% in the GLeague is .355. He has been at .330 and .351 on 512 atts. over the last two years. Blue turned 25 last week; he is only six weeks younger than Clarkson.

        Blue is probably an NBA player now–barely–and I am pretty sure, like many people, that Magic and Pelinka want to get rid of Clarkson, and Blue might get some solid time in the league next year if that happens. I am happy for him that he is getting some $ from the Lakers.

        But Blue is largely irrelevant to the big picture. Pelinka stated publicly again this week that the Lakers want to sign two max guys, so therefore almost everything revolves around how Ball and Ingram develop, and how that affects next summer.


        • Agree RR

          And besides, if they choose to play him and he shines, it’s only right to give him a shot.

          We know how the other FO, would have handled Blue, just walked away – but This new front office is making a name for themselves, by demonstrating by to all players in the NBA, that they reward effort, heart and talent.

          Smart !


  5. Minor Threatt July 29, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Minor quibble, but since it’s only money, I wouldn’t have minded seeing PJ Dozier get a similar deal…or get this one instead of Blue. Blue seems like a good guy and a hard worker, and I’m sure has earned this extra perk for coming to camp. But since right now he’s kinda like Clarkson Lite-Lite, I can’t see him fitting this roster unless JC moves on.

    Dozier, OTOH, has some skills that would have made him potentially a better fit. But unfortunately he got hurt and got no burn in Vegas, so it’s somewhat understandable why the Lakers would let him slide. And who knows, they may have another shot at him – or someone better – after camp.


    • Am I the only one who thought Dozier looked terrible in Summer League? Did my eyes betray me? Everyone is talking about him like he killed it. Vander Blue looked much better than Dozier.


      • Minor, Dallas signed P.J. Dozier to a contract. He’s off the market.


        • Yeah, I saw that. I should have been more clear: I meant I wouldn’t have minded if they signed him to the partial guarantee BEFORE Dallas snapped him up. However, no guarantee he makes the Mavs, and there may be other guys cut loose after camp who are worth a flyer, or the other two-way contract, as defenders, primarily. Even Nwaba, for that matter. Although I think it’s likely they just leave the 15th spot open, barring a deal.


      • Minor Threatt July 30, 2017 at 5:58 am

        He didn’t look great, although he only played 10 minutes or so before he got hurt. Really missed his chance when everybody else was hurt too.

        Where I thought he had a chance to stick was that, while Blue approximates Clarkson’s skill set, Dozier had a chance to approximate Nwaba’s. Active defender who can cover guard + wings. (Also like Nwaba, a slasher with no real shot.)


      • No, you’re not the only one to say dozier looked terrible. I was there and he’s definitely didn’t perform well.


  6. I think the Lakers are properly rewarding him for service to the Lakers over the past few years. I think he is a long shot to actually stick. He is a poor man’s Clarkson but, if the Lakers move Clarkson that might be just what the Lakers want. So this contract serves a reward for service and keeps options open should the Lakers decide to move Clarkson.


  7. Well, this will be Lakers line up:

    1 Ball/Ennis/Caruso
    2 KCP/Clarkson/Hart/Blue
    3 Ingram/Kuzma/Deng
    4 Randle/Jr
    5 Lopez/Zubak/Bryant

    Did I miss any player? Hart can slide to 3 as well as Kuzma to 4. I think this line up can compete for 7th and 8th position in highly competitive WC. My theory here is based on Lakers performance last season in the last 5 games. With a group of young Turks in ’16-’17, playing no defense and to each his own, they still won the last five games. On this line up, it is new paradigm, a new machinery that can wallop an opponent in just one quarter. My concern is how to protect or sustain that lead in the last two quarters. What the Lakers will miss this season the energy from Black, Robinson and Kwaba. On the other hand the players having good time on the court like DLo and Swaggy are no longer around, we take out the grandstanding and hotdogging no D. I wish Zu will improve more, Bryant develops into a reliable rim protector without fouling. I think Lakers strength lies on Lonzo and the Centers. The forwards and guards up tempo will be mostly equal with other teams. If you look at Dubs, Spurs, Thunder and Rockets their weaknesses is in C. They rely too much on this 3 pt sensations. Therefore, If you can incorporate the old system in controlling rebounds plus the nano second ball movements leading to alley hoops, p&r and transition offense Lakers could win every game.


    • Actually I think this is going to be a bit more accurate, but this is of the mindset that Zubac doesn’t come out and play as expected. Also the name you forgot was Corey Brewer.

      1 Ball/Ennis
      2 KCP/Clarkson/Hart
      3 Ingram/Brewer
      4 Randle/Deng/Kuzma
      5 Lopez/Nance/Zubac/Bryant

      2 way: Caruso/Blue

      With Walton liking to go small, I see Nance playing more backup C than he did last year if Zubac doesn’t erupt. This will open up the PF spot for Deng to play his natural position. Kuzma is naturally a 4 so I slotted him in his natural spot, though I won’t be surprised to see him get minutes at the 3 as well. Brewer is the primary backup for Ingram, unless Walton decides he still wants Deng to be a 3 (he’s not).


    • Old Timer,

      This looks like a realistic lineup. As a heads up, though, I believe that KCP will be suspended for the first two games of the season for a traffic violation (driving 45 mph in a 25 mph neighborhood). You might verify that as I could be mistaken. As a result, Clarkson will probably start in his place. If JC plays well, then Clarkson could actually be the starting SG, at least at the beginning of the season.

      Of course, we’ll see how things pan out.


  8. Sorry I forgot to include on 3 Corey Brewer.


  9. I hope the Lakers figure a way to keep T.Rob. His defense and motor will push the young guys in practice. He also plays well when called upon. He is a very cheap Norlens Noel…


  10. With the positionless basketball movement afoot here, the following is how I see the roster breakdown. YES, I have multiple guys playing multiple positions in the depth chart. I think that this breakdown is reflective of how the Old School Positions are having their lines blurred from the 1-5 positions to more GUARDS, WINGS, and BIGS.

    The fact that Ball is a throwbackish, Pass First PG in the traditional mold versus a COMBO guard like Russell is perhaps the only part of the roster that fits the Old School positional blueprint (that and Zubac being a 5). A good number of guys can technically play multiple spots IMO depending on who else is on the floor and what kind of line up Luke wants at any given time.

    1 – Ball/Ennis/Clarkson/Ingram/Caruso
    2 – KCP/Clarkson/Ingram/Hart
    3 – Ingram/Kuzma/Brewer/KCP
    4 – Randle/Nance Jr./Deng/Kuzma/Ingram/Bryant
    5 – Lopez/Zubac/Nance Jr./Bryant/Randle

    I think that Kuzma’s shooting will find him minutes somewhere as long as he competes on D. It’ll be interesting to see if he can play both forward spots. Ingram is a Swiss Army Knife who COULD even play center IMO if he had any weight on his frame. Deng is a modern 4 if he is anything. His days as an athletic wing player are over. If Bryant can polish his game some on the Defensive end and shoot the outside shot consistently, he could crack the rotation later in the season.

    I don’t have Ball sliding over to the 2 because his outside shot still seems erratic at this point, but if he can get more consistency there, he could slide over to allow for a 2 PG line up. I just don’t think he’s ready for that yet.

    When you really look at it, the roster is certainly impressive in its versatility. This is what Luke wants. We just have to see this guys take their lumps and learn to compete at the NBA level.

    6.5 weeks to go til the Season Starts!!!!!!!!!! Can’t WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Terrific, Clay,

      My only quibble is that Lopez should also be listed both as a 4 and 5.


      • Yeah, there is some wiggle room in there for sure. Its all about the overlap in where guys can fit in. I just don”t see Lopez being able to guard most 4s out away from the rim. I see Bryant able to move his feet to that degree but not necessarily Lopez. I think Stretch 5 is as close to a 4 as Lopez gets. He’s a legit 7 footer and isn’t particularly nimble.


  11. Well, I’m just saying if Lakers want to be in the playoffs, they should apply the counter flow fundamentals. First, 75% in ft. Second, quick rebounds easy two’s than hard three’s; Third, strong d especially against lay ups, I expect Julius, Nance, Kyle to aid Lopez in meeting force by stronger energy. It’s old concept defense before offense. Lonzo will be triple teamed from back or mid court, his teammates should apply relay and punish opponents by going to the basket. Not long ago Lakers had Cap hook shots cannot be stopped; Shaq as a mighty force in the middle no team could match; Bynum’s presence plus Gasol and Lo got two more rings. My point, don’t imitate Dubs style, use another tactic.


    • Fine except for one small problem: the Lakers don’t have anybody with the skill set of a KAJ, a Bynum, Shaq, or Pau. Not … Even … Close. LO? Well that would be nice but it totally remains to be seen.


  12. So Darius was this off season as great as you thought last years was?