The final roster construction is the main story of the day, with a 2pm Pacific Time deadline to get rosters down to the league maximum 15. The Lakers already made a move, granting Yi Jianlian his request by waiving him so he could explore alternatives.
With Yi moving on, it was assumed the final roster spot would come down to Thomas Robinson or Metta World Peace. It turns out that assumption may be wrong. From Tania Ganguli of the LA Times:
The Lakers final cut will be Anthony Brown, per source.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) October 24, 2016
I did not see this coming, honestly. Brown, though only making $874K this season, has a guaranteed salary. And while he has not gotten a lot of opportunities to play in the preseason, his skill set and potential to develop into the coveted “3-and-D” player is something I thought the Lakers would value and want to hold onto.
It seems, however, that with Brown not showing he would be able to take any minutes from Nick Young (and his redemption song) or Lou Williams on the wing, Brown became expendable. It should be noted, though, that if Brown clears waivers and, if he is open to it, he could become an “affiliate” player and go to the D-Fenders to play. The Lakers would not retain any “rights” to Brown — if another team called him up, the Lakers would have no way of blocking him for going — but having him “in-house” where the coaches could have regular access to him is worth noting.
As for what the Lakers do now, it would seem both Robinson and Metta would make the final roster. Looking big picture, this makes some sense — even if folks won’t want to hear the reasoning on Metta.
Starting with the latter, Luke has praised Metta all camp as being in excellent shape and we know he’s a locker room mentor. I know I noted earlier that the Lakers have a nice stable of veterans (and a young head coach), but it’s worth pointing out that none of those vets are guys who are necessarily vocal leaders. Metta is nothing if not vocal. He isn’t necessarily the “get in your face” guy of his younger days, but he will pull you to the side and get in your ear about what he’s seeing and offer instruction/advice. I’m not saying the other veterans won’t do that, but if there’s any doubt they can be that type of resource, the prospect of keeping Metta increases.
As for Robinson, we know he can play at this level, even if only as a reserve. He’s a skilled rebounder on both ends and can finish inside as a dive man or on drop-off passes. He is a bit redundant with Tarik Black, but that might actually be part of the rationale for keeping him. Black has a two year contract worth almost $13 million, but the 2nd year of that deal is not guaranteed. If the Lakers were actually interested in making a trade and needed some salary ballast without a future dollar commitment, Black’s contract could work in that type of deal. Of course, that is just me speculating, but it’s worth remembering.
Of course, there is still a chance — even if only a small one — that one of Metta/Robinson still gets cut. The Lakers have long liked to keep their roster at 14 players for flexibility in trades and for waivers. I don’t think that will happen, but I also didn’t foresee Yi asking to be cut or Anthony Brown getting waived. So, yeah. We’re just going to have to see how things play out.