The Lakers didn’t have the type splashy signing off-season they hoped to have in the lead up to the July 1st opening of free agency, but they recovered nicely in building a roster that addressed many of their needs. In signing a quality group of veterans — including, reportedly, international point guard Marcelo Huertas — and flanking them with a crop of young players eager to make inroads as contributing players, the Lakers have taken a step towards becoming more competitive.
Before that competition begins against other NBA teams, though, there will be a lot of competition just to sort out who the final players on the roster will be. I touched on this briefly on twitter, but as of today, if including Huertas, the Lakers have 17 players on their roster heading into camp. Of those 17, 13 have fully guaranteed contracts (this would include Huertas). Of the four remaining players, two have partial guarantees (Jonathan Holmes and Michael Frazier) and two have non-guaranteed deals (Tarik Black and Jabari Brown).
For the sake of argument, let’s also include Robert Upshaw as a player who will end up getting an invite to Lakers’ camp. Let’s also assume he’ll get a partial guaranteed deal, similar to the ones Holmes and Frazier recently signed. Heading into camp, then, the Lakers would have 18 players (and maybe more) competing for, at most, 15 roster spots.
While it’s fair to assume the Lakers would probably keep all the guaranteed guys on their roster, that’s not a foregone conclusion. While Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre are both well regarded by the Lakers and have team friendly deals, neither should be considered “locks” to make the final team. I’m not saying they would be cut (that seems unlikely to me), but it’s very possible both could be looked at as possible pieces to trade away should a deal bring back a better prospect or generate flexibility.
In other words, expect there to be as many as seven players — Sacre, Kelly, Black, Brown, Frazier, Holmes, and Upshaw — to be competing for the final three to four roster spots. What gives this competition even more interesting is that those seven players represent exact position battles between an incumbent (or two) and a guy who, theoretically, is fighting to fill that same role for this team:
- Center: Sacre vs. Black vs. Upshaw
- Stretch PF: Kelly vs. Holmes
- Shooting Guard: Brown vs. Frazier
If I were scoring today, I’d say that Sacre, Black, and Kelly are all on pretty firm ground* with Brown right on the edge of that group. These are the players the team is familiar with and has invested time, money, and resources into. Next are the three newcomers.
Just because that’s where it stands now, though, does not mean that’s how it will end up.
With the signing of Huertas and, with that a potential full time shift to SG for Clarkson, Brown may now become expendable. Further, if Frazier — a player with a reputation as a lights out shooter who also was a defensive stopper at Florida — has a great camp, he might beat out Brown outright.
In that same vein, if Holmes continues his hot shooting from summer league and shows that his defense and rebounding from college can translate to the pros, Kelly may be in some trouble. Just like if Upshaw comes into camp in great shape, has a great attitude, and proves that his past troubles are behind him, either Black or Sacre could be seen as expendable.
It’s just as easy the front-runners remain in their favored positions, of course. But watching how these guys battle, how they respond to competition, and whether enough is done to make the front office reevaluate how they want to construct the back end of the roster will be one of the key side stories of training camp.
Rico Tico says
That’s is for sure, there is going to be some really good battles this Pre-season. We are going to have a more complete team this year.
Who are your guaranteed 14 players ?
Which 2/3 players will be on the buble?
Who becomes our 15th man and why?
Rico Tico says
PG Russel, Huertas
SG Clarkson, Williams, J.Brown
SF Kobe, Young, A Brown,
PF Randle, Bass, Lance Jr, Kelley
C Hibbert, Black, Sacre
If we could somehow move Sacre and Kelley I would welcome Holmes and Upshaw with open arms.
Hearkening back to Jimbo’s recent interview, filled with all sorts of absurd statements re family and blood, no surprise that these morons signed some 32 year old from the Euroleague. Jebus, lads, get the analysis beyond Youtube highlights. Try something like:
So he’s here because he he lost his job in Europe. Perfectly sums Lakers management at this point. He’s going to help take the team all the way. How do we know this? Because he’s a 32 year old with zero NBA experience who lost his starting gig in Euorpa.
Can’t drafted rookies be traded or waived as well?
Darius Soriano says
So he’s here because he he lost his job in Europe.
I’ve got it on good sources he would have found a job in Europe this season should he have wanted one. As has been reported publicly as well, he’s been discussing wanting to give the NBA a try for some time. And, yes, there are reasons to question whether he’ll be a success in the NBA — I covered several of those in th post on his signing.
Darius Soriano says
Yes, they can be. But all the Lakers’ rookies have already been signed to their contract. Trading them requires a waiting period (one which should be expiring soon). Waiving them means paying them the guaranteed portion of their contracts, which count against the salary cap.
Renato Afonso says
You should really watch more european basketball before making such statement. He’s good.
In regards to marcelo huertas he did have an offer from Galatsaray one of the top turkish teams, he just chose the NBA.
I’ll be so disappointed if lakers don’t develop Robert Upshaw. This guy has Hassan Whiteside 2.0 written all over him.
Pg. Russell, Williams, Huertas
Sg. Clarkson, JB, Frazier II
Sf. Kobe, Young, AB
Pf. Randle, Bass, NanceJr, Holmes
C. Hibbert, Black
Kelly and sacre are wack
This is great, now get rid of Jabari Brown..
Great article Darius! I was wondering how the rules work as far as stashing players in the D-League, would love to see guys like Upshaw, Holmes, and Frazier (or brown and black depending on training camp) stay in the organization even if they don’t make the roster. Is there anyway to send them to the D-league without using a roster spot or allowing other teams to sign them?
I like the progress Holmes has made in the last six months plus his years in a top college program,Kelly will have a battle. Several players are going to try to become this years Clarkson.The downside is sometimes an undrafted player puts so pressure on themselves,they underachieve rather than impress.
It’s still a 25 – 30 win team. Can’t expect a team thrown together over the summer to be playoff caliber. This is going to take time.
Darius, I haven’t read your piece on the soul in question. Did read the comments, though, and also some pieces via Google News. Spin the matter however you like, but the facts remain that he is age 32, so nowhere to go but into decline, he lost his starting gig, etc. And so you get the talent level in every sense and respect:
Lastly, for Renato, I have watched some Euro basketball. Sure, there are some good players in Europe, but the best are in the NBA and the rest is so wildly uneven that you get a better talent evaluation watching the NBA’s D league. Now well and truly lastly, here’s how I sum overseas basketball, for the most part:
Josh Childress NBL game statline: 36 points, 19 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks, 1 TO
Ima put that on Youtube…
And if you watch the Youtube vids, watch where the ball is, and watch where his body is. A little too much space there. Won’t play well in the NBA. Even if he has anything left in the tank.
Clay Bertrand says
Why do we have to keep Sacre? Still waiting for that break out year?? He’s the same player he was at Gonzaga. Barely, BARELY “servicable” as an NBA 5. I agree with those who still have that Hassan Whiteside workout (that the Lakers found they somehow didn’t see any talent in) stuck in their craw. I know Upshaw has some issues AND a Tongue ring, but he could be a difference making rim protector and possibly get some easy baskets too A LA DeAndre “Mr PotatoHead Eyes” Jordan. Obviously, I am not privy to the inside background of Upshaw but I think we can afford to gamble on some higher upside talent. This is a full rebuild after all.
As for Kelly, he COULD be OK as a non athletic stretch 4 — sort of poor man’s Matt Bullard if we wanted one of those for some strange reason. Why can’t we try to develop these undrafted guys at the end of the bench instead of keeping guys who have hit their ceiling or have clearly low ones?? We have to keep the dead weight because their contracts are guaranteed even though it keeps us from being able to retain better players with more potential at lower costs?? That’s moronic!! Is it to avoid paying the repeater luxury tax for going over this year in a year we are not contending??
Also, since Jabari Brown has been on the roster after initially being cut after camp and doing the D-League, I haven’t seen him play a bad game. He isn’t a lock down defender, but he tries and isn’t the worst around and he’s a pretty effective and efficient scorer with a nice 3 ball. He’s what Swaggy SHOULD be!
Competition breeds a winning dynamic all the way around. Sacre and Kelly’s guaranteed contracts be damned!! Keep the guys with the best upside. They can’t be WORSE than Sacre and Kelly are can they???? Plus I want a Jon Holmes Lakers jersey and I ain’t the only one!!!!
Laker uruguayo says
I agree with Jason, I’m interested in the answer for Antony, and I have another question: can Holmes play SF? Thanks, Darius! Soriano is a spanish surname…
Most of u are just talkers because, it’s possible to do so but, u don’t follow Basketball. Especially, the Lakers, they (will be continders this year)
They crazy for not signing Jabari. Sleep.
Honestly, I would really like to see Sacre go. I just don’t think he adds value at all. He doesn’t necessarily rebound or block shots well, although I’m sure he has a good attitude, he doesn’t seem like a practice player that benefits others. He’s just not a good player and I’m amazed that he’s still in the league. He’s decent in the pick and roll, but not enough to justify taking a roster spot from a player that can contribute or one that can be developed. Sacre is what he is, and unfortunately that isn’t an NBA player.
Also, I’m really trying to temper my expectation of the Lakers this year as we have a ton of young players. Recent history will tell you that young teams don’t fare so well. However, I look our 3 core young players (Clarkson, Randle, and Russel) and can’t help but think of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, or Curry, Clay, and Green. I’m not comparing those players, but the situation is similar with one major difference, those teams didn’t have a player like Kobe. How we play next year will depend on how fast the younguns can develop, but Kobe’s play is crucial. We really have no idea how he’s going to look. I do defend his play last year because Kobe knew that the Lakers really had nothing to play for and his goal was to gun for Mike’s record. He shot at a ridiculous clip that was bad for even Kobe’s standards. But I don’t think people realize how bad that team was last year. When Randle got hurt, I think Kobe figured he would just go for his. Not saying it’s right, but when there is a debate over who your second best player is between Boozer, Lin, and Young, then your team is terrible.
Our schedule is fairly light for the first 20 games. If we something like 12 – 8 after 20, I’d be happy. If Kobe is averaging an efficient 20 ppg, then I think we are making the playoffs. But if he’s averaging an inefficient 25 ppg, that means he’s lost trust in the rooks and its gonna be a tough season.
But Kobe is smart, and I don’t think last year’s play was indicative of how he plans on playing this year at all. We have some talented young players and some nice complementary vets.
pat oslon says
The battle at the bottom of the line-up is going to be quite interesting as the FO will have to make some sound decisions in selecting the youngsters that we keep on the team, send to the D-League or cut. We have a lot of good options but they are very young and inexperienced for the most part. The team is definitely going to struggle again this season but that’s what the rebuiding process entails. Developing these young guys is the most important thing right now. 35-40 wins would be a huge step in the right direction. I don’t know if that’s realistic but I can’t wait to find out.
J C says
You’re playing my song on Sacre.
I think the only reason he’s signed is as insurance in case other bigs go down with injury. He can give 8-10 minutes without inflicting too much damage. And I assume he’s a good locker room guy. Attitude is still a tangible asset.
But as far as talent goes, I agree with you. I’ve seen a million guys better than him in rec leagues. Its astonishing to me that he’s still got a uniform.
As regards the roster, someone asked, can we assign guys to the D league to start the season without fear of losing them to another team? Maybe it depends if we are paying them a salary – in which case it does count against the cap?
Don’t all D league players earn a salary?
It surely is going to be an interesting year! I agree with most comments about cutting ties with Sacre & Kelly. They’ve reached their potential. I’d also make a case to keep Upshaw somehow, some way shape or form. You can’t teach height. He really needs to do himself a favour though and get a personal trainer and come into camp twice the man he was at summer league….then continue to hit the weights, hit the road and eat better! If he’s on the team hell do more in one season than Sacre did in his career! Keep Holmes FOR SURE…Frazier too! But also try and keep Jabari as well. Youth is a good place to start! Would we trade Randall for Markieff Morris?
PG: Clarkson, Russell, Heurtas
SG: Bryant, Williams, Fraizer
SF: N.Young, A.Brown, Holmes
PF: Bass, Randle, NanceJr
C: Hibbert, Black, Upshaw
I think either Kelly is moved or waived by final cut. NanceJr is to athletic with to much potential so he beats out Kelly for the final spot and Holmes can play both positions better than Kelly so it’s a no brainer. Fraizer beats out Jabari because the 3rd string SG only needs to do one thing well as a role player. Fraizer does that almost better than anyone on the roster from three(excluding the great one) Jabari is a combo guard that can do a lot of things fairly good, but not one thing specifically well. with Williams and N.young both on the roster, you don’t need a player like Jabari, you need a player like Frazier.
Im Matt. From Berlin/Germany. 29 years old.. 15 years already Hardcore-Lakers-Fan. Sorry for my english.. i would love to say some words for my dream future for the Lakers…
First of all.. Thanks for one of the best Lakers-Comment-Writer.. Darius Soriano.. I feel you man! I feel you! I read your Comments/Analyses maybe 3 years now.. I love your profound!
Ok.. I must say.. I was never so much excited for an upcoming season ever.. (THE HOWARD/NASH ACCIDENT IS ALREADY CANCELLED IN MY HEAD!!)
Some Reasons why im so excited:
1. Kobe’s maybe last season?! -> Biggest Wish: Please stay healthy Mr. Mamba!
2. Los Angelo (NEW NICKNAME?;-D) He’s my Chris Paul type of PG that the Lakers want so much since the CP3-Veto-Scandal! In my eyes the next BIG THING! I see him winning the Rookie of the year award! Just like a lot of other people/experts! I believe in Los Angelo! ;-D
3. Clarkson/Randle.. Puh.. Very excited.. Very! Clarkson could win Most improved Player award, when he can play more concentrate.. more focused.. he’s still young, just like Randle! Could Randle win the rookie of the year award also?! hmm.. I like that he can compete with RON-RON! Nobody was so strong like Metta! Cant wait to see him to guard players like Lebron.. oouuhh.. im soo excited.. i just cant hide it..
4. Bass/Williams and.. (thanks god we have finally a Rim-Protector!) HIBBERT! I think Lakers had the best Off-Seasons since.. i dont.. They made everything right in my opinion! They signed very solid players! They are all needed a fresh new start! Very excited!
5. Upshaw! crazy name for a crazy guy in a crazy mystery.. 4 blocks in 19 minutes.. 7 blocks in 36 minutes… undrafted.. unsigned.. no signs for a signing… WTF.. is going on with this guy?! Will he ever play for the Lakers? Hopefully! Will he ever play for the D-Fenders and improve to a monster-future-lakers-Center since DumbBynum, only without the Dumb? Hopefully! But please dont let such a talent go Sir Buss! Upshaw we believe in you! 😉
6. … eh.. WOLRDPEACE mybe coming back?! very exciting!
My starting lineup for 2015-16…
PointGuard: Los Angelo
ShootingGuard: Kobe (dont like to see him at the SF guarding Players like GIANNIS)
SmallForward: RANDLE!!! Tell me why not?! He’s the type of player Lakers needed so badly since.. yeah thats right.. since METTA! He is fast! Big and Strong! improved maybe his shot?! We will see what will happend in Hawaii. Maybe he will be the answer for the SF Problem!
PowerForward: We have to many PF’s… (and SG’s too) if Randle really would play SF.. i would pick Nance jr.. yes.. over Bass.. only if he can better fit in the system than bass… Can you imagine D’Angelo lob-passes to Nance?! Holly Molly! He’s an high flyer! New CP3-Blake duo? Maybe! Hope he is worth the 27th pick! Im also believe in him!
Center: Thats the simplest choice like PG, at that point for me.. Hibbert! Only the improvement and stability of Upshaw would be dangerous for Hibberts spot!
My Complete Roster 2015-16..
PG: Russell, Clarkson, Huertas
SG: Kobe, Williams, Brown, (Frazier)
SF: Randle (or maybe Young, we will see if Mr. Azalea has the mentality and consistancy to play in the NBA like in the Drew Leauge), Young, A.Brown, Holmes
PF: Nance jr. or Bass or Randle… i dont really know.. must see how they play
C: Hibbert, Upshaw, (Black)
For now.. thats all Folks 😉
I’m Marco from Italy, longtime basketball and Lakers lover.
Just two quick thoughts about the signing of Marcelinho Huertas.
a) Anyone sees an analogy between him and the hiring of Pablo Prigion by the Knicks (and then Houston)? A little old, South American, coming from top team Spanish experience (Real Madrid instead of Barcelona), I wouldn’t have bet a cent on him succeeding in NBA. Still, he did pretty well, and his playing time in New York really surprised me. Prigioni is more rational and tougher than Huertas (he’s from Argentina, not from Brasil ;)) and a better 3-points shooter, but in his case the experiment worked well, in my opinion.
b) Take a look at European Basketball Championship that’s coming. You’ll see quite a lot of players who you don’t even know by name, and who could be a pleasant surprise..
Ciao a tutti!
35-40 wins would be a huge step in the right direction. I don’t know if that’s realistic but I can’t wait to find out.
That´s it Pat, you nailed it.
Hi Matt, I like your enthusiasm; I´m an optimist myself…most of the time
Darius Soriano says
I believe this is the language you are looking for:
These players can still be called up by any NBA team since their rights are not exclusively held by the team who cut them in camp. However, because they are “affiliate players” they are in that team’s system, which is helpful to get a better evaluation on that guy. My guess would be if, say, the Lakers were to bring Upshaw to camp along with Frazier and Holmes and none of three made the regular season roster, those three guys would be assigned to the D-Fenders as affiliate players, assuming they did, in fact, go to the D-League (and not to, say, Europe).
It seems to me that says
the pecking order for the four Lakers centers (including Upshaw) is as follows:
There is an undeniably steep cliff between one and two, and my ranking of these four Lakers centers is probably an unpopular view. Black’s non-guaranteed (and more readily disposable) contract and his lack of size at the center position put him just behind Sacre, while Upshaw is more of a wild card (and long shot) than many of my fellow Lakers fans seem to want to admit.
Based on what we already know about him and about UDFAs in general, Upshaw is more likely to wash out of the league (if he ever even gets in) than he is to become the player so many seem to think he could become. Hope he proves me wrong, but that’s just how it is as of now. Hassan Whiteside is the exception, not the rule, and he still took years to develop into a serviceable, if limited, starting center, a job he wouldn’t win over at least ten other starting centers in the league.
Conversely, you know what you’re getting with Sacre: legit size, a good work ethic, NBA-ready fitness, seemingly murphy-proof durability, a good locker room presence, unparalleled sideline cheer leading, consummate professionalism, good citizenship, familiarity with teammates, a sub-par post-up game, a mediocre jumper, mediocre-to-bad defense, mediocre rebounding, etc., with arguably very little margin for improvement (though you never know–dude could still break out). The guy will cause no problems and will do his job, albeit poorly at times. In a recent Basketball Outsiders podcast with Anthony Irwin and Harrison Faigen, Eric Pincus opined that 30 out of 30 NBA teams would take Sacre over Upshaw as a third-string center based on what we know about each of them right now. Upshaw is like a million times more likely to cause problems than Sacre is–because the odds of Sacre causing problems are microscopic.
Consider this: if the Lakers dump Sacre via trade in order to sign Upshaw and if they are subsequently forced to remove Upshaw from the team, they would pretty much just have Black and Bass as back up centers, which is a worse outcome than having Sacre and Black (and Bass in a pinch). If Upshaw goes because he becomes a negative presence in the locker room, as opposed to injury or ineptitude, he could ostensibly harm the development of other young players on the team, or he could incite chemistry problems that persist beyond his departure. I’m not saying that’s likely, but the possibility is real.
It probably won’t come to that, though, as I foresee it playing out. If the Lakers ultimately keep Upshaw, which I think is unlikely based on what I know now, then I view Black (who didn’t look particularly good in SL, yet still better than Upshaw) as the more likely odd man out, mostly because of his contract, but, again, that probably won’t happen. Hibbert, Black, and Sacre constitute the most likely rotation at center, but I think the second-string spot is in play for Sacre if he demonstrates growth over last year and if Black is roughly the player we saw in SL.
I have a question similar to Anthony’s. The Lakers roster is 15 and it expands during training camp. As the beginning of the season approaches, the club has to start cutting players and eventually get back to 15 when the season actually starts. As the players get cut, how many can the club put into the “D” league to save them for the future? What is the limit on the D-league roster? Why don’t the Lakers just sign Upshaw and put him into the D-league for save-keeping? I’ve read that Upshaw currently can be signed by any club because he is not under contract with the Lakers.
Darius Soriano says
To answer your question – 3 players can be cut and assigned to the D-League team as affiliate players. However, since they were cut, the Lakers don’t have any “rights” to them and they can sign with any other team because they are free agents.
As for your Upshaw question, if the Lakers sign him he takes up a roster spot. If he’s then assigned to the D-League, he still occupies a roster spot on the Lakers. This differs from the example above where a player is cut.
And, yes, Upshaw is currently not under contract with the Lakers. He has not signed a deal that would bring him to training camp as of yet.
Rick in Seattle says
So, what is the status of Ron Artest (er, MWP)? Will he be coming to training camp? If not, the team still needs more veteran depth at SF, because Kobe still has health issues and Young, well he is still a knucklehead who is hard to coach. .
Thanks for the reply, Darius. I don’t think Mitch Kupchak is as impressed with Upshaw as the general public. His future may hinge on what happens to Ryan Kelly, Nick Young or Robert Sacre. Barring an injury to the roster he is probably slated for the D-league, which is probably where he should be.
PG: Russell, Huertas
SG: Clarkson, Williams, Brown
SF: Bryant, Young, A.Brown
PF:Randle, Bass, Nance Jr, Holmes
C: Hibbert, Black, Upshaw
during a summer league game the camera caught him giving Karl Anthony Towns a big shove, apparently just to let him know who’s boss. For anyone else, no big deal, for Upshaw, who knows…this is a guy who’s every wrong move is followed.