Archives For Free Agents

Once the word leaked this was a possibility, maybe we should have known this was always coming. We really should have known when it was reported this was getting closer. It turns out, today is that day. If you didn’t read the title of this post and have no clue what I’m talking about, the Lakers will (reportedly) sign Metta World Peace:

As simple as it would seem a deal like this would be, nothing is ever really like that, is it? At his pre-training camp press conference, Mitch Kupchak spoke today about the positive influence he believes Metta can have on the lockerroom, in helping to mentor young players, and in passing down knowledge from his decade-plus career as an impact (and elite) defender. Noting that, while observing him in scrimmages and pick-up game sessions, MWP could still play is also meaningful.

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Robert Upshaw told us he was going to go to Lakers’ training camp and it looks like he was right. Today the team officially announced his signing via press release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed center Robert Upshaw to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

The still unknown terms of the contract are important, but likely not a huge difference maker here. My assumption is that Upshaw’s deal is either fully non-guaranteed like Marcelo Huertas’ or has only small, partial guarantees like those given to Jonathan Holmes and Michael Frazier. In either case, Upshaw will have to prove his worth in training camp to crack the final 15 and earn a roster spot. (UPDATE: Baxter Holmes of ESPN is reporting Upshaw’s deal has a partial guarantee in the 1st year and is fully non-guaranteed in the 2nd year. While not outright stated, I am assuming his contract is for the minimum both years.)

(UPDATE II: Eric Pincus of the LA Times is reporting that $35K of Upshaw’s first year salary is guaranteed. The 2nd year, as Holmes also reported, is non-guaranteed. The totals for the contract are (roughly) $525K in year one and $875K in year 2.)

The fact that we’ve gotten to this point, though, should not be ignored. Yes, Upshaw said he’d be joining camp (while adding he thinks he’ll make the team), but the rhetoric coming out of the Lakers’ front office did not make any such assurances. Those statements were likely just the carrot the team was hanging out in front of the big man as motivation to do what was needed of him, but the chance he wouldn’t was always there.

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When it was reported the Lakers signed Marcelo Huertas, part of my analysis focused on my thoughts that his contract was likely to be fully guaranteed and, thus, his roster spot was basically set in stone. Well, it turns out that is not the case. Not at all, in fact:

Huertas taking a fully non-guaranteed deal is a bit of a shocker to me. Considering he could have more than likely continued his career in Europe with guaranteed money, coming to the NBA on the equivalent of a make-good training camp invite is not something I saw coming.

This leads me to two conclusions. First, Huertas really wanted to come to the NBA this season. When he told Yahoo! Sports in April that “now is the right time”, that was clearly not him just blowing smoke. He put his money where his mouth was, putting his desires to come stateside over what were surely more fruitful guarantees overseas.

Second, Huertas likely sees himself as having a good chance to make the Lakers’ final roster. Training camp invites, much like Summer League choices, are all about finding a team where 1). adequate opportunity to play exists and 2). a path to a potential roster spot is clear enough to inspire a fair shot at making the team. The Lakers, for what it’s worth, look to offer both to Huertas.

While D’Angelo Russell is clearly the PG of the future and Jordan Clarkson played well at that spot last season, the team does not currently have a veteran signal caller who could play behind either player. Add to this Byron Scott’s affinity for veteran players and Mitch Kupchak’s on the record comments about wanting to add a veteran signal caller and Huertas’ chances only increase.

With all these variables working (at least somewhat) in his favor, Huertas is taking his chance. Now all he has to do is play well enough in camp to make the front office want to keep him around.

With about a month left until the start of training camp, the Lakers continue to add talent to their roster. The most recent addition, according to Adrian Wojnarowski, is Brazilian Point Guard Marcelo Huertas:

Free-agent guard Marcelo Huertas – one of the Euroleague’s most accomplished playmakers – has agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Huertas also provides some background as how he believes he can be successful in the NBA:

“There’s so much more space in the NBA,” Huertas told Yahoo Sports in April. “It’s not like Europe now, where you have one guy full-time in the paint. Space is harder to come by. One of my strengths is playing in the pick-and-roll, finding open guys and making shots in the mid-range game off the dribble.

“I think that part is harder to find now, because you mostly have guys who get all the way to the hole, or they’re three-point shooters. And if I’m open, and I can get my feet set, I’m going to make a lot of those kind of shots.”

Huertas believes he can make a difference in the locker room, too, by mentoring young players and meshing with veterans. For the Lakers, Huertas could give them an ideal partner as Russell is groomed to become the franchise’s cornerstone.

“If you look at NBA rosters, there are unbelievable starting point guards, but maybe not as many guys who can come off the bench able to run the team, score the ball, as well as being able to be a leader for young players,” Huertas said. “Those are things I know I’ll be able to bring with me.”

Mitch Kupchak and Byron Scott have both mentioned their want for another point guard — preferably a veteran — on the team and it seems they have found him.

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The Lakers currently have 16 players under contract, but will look at to add anywhere from two to four more players to their roster for training camp. Among the players they have shown interest in is former Kings Forward Eric Moreland. From Shams Charania of Real GM:

Free agent Eric Moreland has multiple deals to compete for a roster spot in NBA training camp, with the Detroit Pistons as frontrunners, league sources told RealGM. The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are strong under consideration for Moreland, sources said, and their front offices expect the 6-foot-10 forward to settle upon a destination once the final offers are presented. The Kings waived Moreland on July 29 before his contract guarantee date for the 2015-16 season.

After having a good summer league with the Kings (6.4 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 20 minutes a game), Moreland is looking to catch on and find a more permanent role with a team. That said, any contract and camp invite from the Lakers isn’t likely to bring that security.

The Lakers are already very deep at PF with no fewer than 5 players who could draw consideration for minutes at that spot. There might be more flexibility if Moreland could play C, but with a listed weight of 218 pounds, that’s an unlikely solution.

Ultimately, then, I’d not expect Moreland to stick even if he did choose the Lakers. There are simply too many players he’d need to unseat to earn a regular season roster spot, nearly all of them players the team has already invested in. He would likely just be camp fodder who could compete with the other Lakers’ bigs in practice and provide an extra body as insurance should injury occur or if a player needs a day off for rest.

Whether that situation is enough to entice him would likely depend on how he and his agent view the opportunities with the Kings and the Pistons. Detroit currently has more guaranteed contracts than roster spots and will need to make cuts to get down to the maximum roster size. The Kings offer familiarity, but also just drafted Willie Cauley-Stein and added Kosta Koufos and Quincy Acy in free agency.

Whichever team Moreland chooses, then, offers an uphill climb to a roster spot. We’ll see if the Lakers end up being that team.

The Lakers have been active on the undrafted free agent market in recent days, signing Jonathan Holmes to a 2-year contract on Thursday and agreeing to a 2-year contract with Michael Frazier on Sunday. With this activity, a persisting question is when the Lakers would follow through on signing Robert Upshaw to the contract they reportedly agreed to after the team’s first summer league game.

Well, it looks like we have an answer and it’s not exactly the one I’m guessing a lot of fans were hoping for:

As Pincus notes, Upshaw remains a possibility and I wouldn’t be surprised if he still gets an invite to camp on a “make good” contract. Whether that contract would have any guarantees — even small ones like those which appeared in Holmes’ and Frazier’s contracts — is unknown.

Especially since, I’d imagine, the team is greatly balancing his history of off-court issues with the promise he exhibits on the floor. Unlike other UDFA’s the team might deal with this summer, Upshaw has both a higher probability of becoming a sunk cost just as he has a higher ceiling and potential to become a long term piece.

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We recently touched on where the Lakers’ roster stands with a little over a month left until training camp opens, but it seems like we could have waited an additional day since the Lakers have made another addition:

Reports are that Frazier has not yet signed his deal, but per the above report, the deal has been agreed to. My guess is that Frazier will sign a similar deal to the one Jonathan Holmes just inked — a two year deal with a small guarantee — with the intention of seeing if he can make the team by flashing some skill in training camp. (UpdateEric Pincus is reporting Frazier’s deal is a two-year contract with $50K guaranteed.)

As for Frazier’s measurables and game, he’s a 6’4″ shooting guard who went undrafted after leaving the University of Florida after his Junior season. He averaged 12.4 and 12.1 points per game his last two years in college with some very good shooting splits. Kevin O’Connor of SB Nation has a very good scouting report on Frazier that is worth your time, but here is a key passage:

At 6’4, Frazier has the passing skills of a combo guard, but shooting will always be his career ticket. He shot more than 43 percent from downtown in his three-year tenure with the Gators. Mechanically, Frazier features a compact release and can either hop or step into his shot attempts depending on the situation. In addition to having strong mechanics, Frazier possesses excellent instincts. He was one of the best in the class of 2015 at moving without the ball to find soft spots in the defense.

In summer league, Frazier did not have his best showing, shooting only 26.3% from the field while missing all of his three point field goal attempts (0-11). His lack of elite size for a shooting guard and his struggles from the field in Vegas likely contributed to a team not yet inking him to a contract, but considering the small sample and his body of work at UF, the Lakers are likely betting that his potential as a shooter and ability to develop his playmaking skills further warrants a better look.

Considering the Lakers’ lack of shooting and the need to always mine and hoard that skillset in the pros, this is a gamble worth taking if you’re the Lakers. If he doesn’t pan out, all the team is out is a small sum of guaranteed cash. If he can challenge Jabari Brown, though, and show enough as a floor spacing shooter who looks like he’s able to be another combo-type of guard who can handle the ball some while also playing off other playmakers who create good looks for him, this small investment could pay off.

Time will tell if Frazier ends up being camp fodder or something bigger. But the Lakers continue to add to their roster, looking for more pieces they can potentially develop.

What was reported last week has now become official: the Lakers have signed undrafted free agent Jonathan Holmes to a multi year deal. From the Lakers press release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed forward Jonathan Holmes to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

In five games for the Celtics’ entry in the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Holmes averaged 12.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.0 steals in 21.8 minutes per game, while shooting 55.6% from the field. The 6’9’’ Holmes also appeared in three games for Boston in the 2015 Utah Jazz Summer League, and in his eight games (seven starts) between the two competitions, shot a perfect 15-15 from the free throw line, and 13-28 (46.4%) from beyond-the-arc.

As we covered in our initial write up, Holmes is more of a tweener forward who would likely do his best work as a “stretch four” in the NBA. He has good size (6’9″) and decent length (6’11” wingspan) with a solid build. While at the University of Texas, he spent most of his junior year banging down low as a more traditional big man and then, as a senior, moved the perimeter by playing a lot of small forward.

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