Tag: Elias Harris

Kobe Bryant

With Kobe staying as highest-paid player in NBA, the Lakers can rebuild but it’s not easy


Kobe Bryant has signed a contract extension and is staying on with the Lakers for two more seasons. That news made Lakers nation happy — go to a Lakers game and you see the flood of 24 jerseys in the crowd — you quickly realize why the Lakers could not let him go at any cost. He fills the luxury boxes, he draws the sponsors, he is worth a lot to them financially. More than they can pay him.

But they are still paying him a lot.

ESPN reports the deal is for two years at $48.5 million — Kobe Bryant will remain the highest paid player in the NBA.

For a team that has sold its fan base on making moves with a lot of cap space this summer to again contend, this throws a little kink in the plan. A big kink. Maybe a crippling kink.

The Lakers will still have money to go after a max free agent (if they can recruit one, that’s another issue) but after that they wouldn’t have a lot left. Especially since they do not want to go over the luxury tax line next year, they want to get away from the repeater tax.

That is not going to make the Lakers a contender. The contract holds them back (remember Tim Duncan scaled back to $11 million, Kevin Garnett about the same).

The Lakers still should have about $22 million in cap space next summer, reports Larry Coon at his NBA CBAFAQ. (Ed. note: These numbers are updated from the original version of this post.) In case you’re curious, is more than LeBron James will get but less than Carmelo Anthony’s max ($23 million). Not that either of them are likely to leave their current settings ( you never know, but don’t bet on it). The Lakers will be in the market for second tier guys — Luol Deng, Zach Randolph, Danny Granger and others.

The salary cap next summer is projected to be $62.9 million. The Lakers will also have their own first round draft pick. Based on their current record, this pick would fall around #15, and would therefore count around $1.5 million against their cap.This would give them a total of about $37.66 million for six players. We need to add another six cap holds totaling $3,04 million, which brings the total to about $40,70 million.

With this team salary, the Lakers would have about $22.2 million in cap room next summer.

However, the situation gets even more complex for the Lakers.

The Lakers process has to start with a clear plan for  what kind of team they are building — if they are keeping Mike D’Antoni around as coach they can’t just go get anyone (particularly Carmelo Anthony), they need to get specific players that fit his system and what he wants to do.

The Lakers go into next season with three contracts on the books — Kobe at $23.5 million, Steve Nash with $9.7 million (with what he is saying I don’t expect he will retire), Robert Sacre at $915,243 (Elias Harris has a non-guaranteed deal, we will assume he is gone). They will have a roughly $1.5 million slot for their first-round draft pick this year. In theory Nick Young could stick around as he has a $1.2 million option, but it is more likely he opts out to try and find a longer deal. The Lakers have a player option on Ryan Kelly at $1 million they may pick up. The Lakers also likely would want to keep Jordan Hill around, but he is an unrestricted free agent playing his way into a bigger payday than the $3.5 million he made this year.

Then there are the cap holds — placeholders against what the Lakers can spend based on them keeping their own free agents. Pau Gasol is at $20 million, Steve Blake at $7.6 million and it goes on down the list through Chris Kaman, Jodie Meeks and others.

To have their max money to go after free agents the Lakers have to renounce their rights to all of those guys – plus Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and others playing well in their roles — and let them be free agents. Only then do they have the empty roster and cap space. Or they could re-sign those guys and cut into the $20 million.

Which is to say, the Lakers can’t just test the market and expect Gasol to be there as a fallback in case their dalliance with others doesn’t work out.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said before rebuilding is a multi-year process for the Lakers — they are not going to check everything off the box this summer.

But if they are going to get Kobe Bryant the ring No. 6 he so desperately wants they only have a couple of years now as a window. And it’s not going to be easy to get those guys. Not with Kobe’s salary on the books.

Lakers announce signing of second round draft pick Ryan Kelly

Michigan State v Duke

The Lakers signed Ryan Kelly, the team announced on Friday via official release.

Kelly was selected with the 48th overall pick in the second round of this summer’s draft, with the hope that the 6’11” forward out of Duke would be able to fill the ever-elusive stretch-four role that seems to thrive in the offensive system favored by Mike D’Antoni.

Kelly shot 42.2 percent from three-point distance in his senior season.

It’s late in the game for a team to be signing its draft picks, but with Kelly, there have been extenuating circumstances.

Kelly underwent multiple procedures this summer to deal with foot issues, and has been slow to recover. It kept him off of the team’s Summer League roster, where guys like Marcus Landry and Elias Harris were able to shine. And he’s still not expected to be ready by the time training camp opens on September 28.

The Lakers drafted Kelly for a reason, however, which explains his eventual signing. The team has apparently decided to wait for him to be healthy enough to show whether or not he can do what they envisioned, and considering his contract is for just one year and is non-guaranteed, he has some incentive to get back on the court and prove his worth as soon as possible.

Lakers make Marcus Landry signing official

marcus landry lakers

We’ve known about Marcus Landry getting a training camp invite from the Lakers for quite some time, but the team made things official with an announcement on Monday.

Landry earned his spot with a stellar performance for the Lakers at the Las Vegas Summer League, where he averaged 15.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game in five appearances.

The Lakers currently have 11 players in place with guaranteed contracts for next season. In addition to Landry, the team has added Elias Harris, Xavier Henry, and Shawne Williams to its list of training camp invites who could potentially earn a roster spot for the coming season.

Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reports that while Williams and Harris have a portion of their contracts ($100,000 each) guaranteed, Henry and Landry don’t have that luxury, and will need to land on the opening night roster in order to get paid on their current deals.

Lakers make it official, sign Xavier Henry. Create camp competition.

New Orleans Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers

I love HBO’s “Hard Knocks” — the show that tracks an NFL team through training camp, this season the Cincinnati Bengals. There is great drama because there are few guaranteed contracts in the NFL and there are 75 guys fighting for 53 spots.

It would almost never work in the NBA because there just isn’t much camp drama — NBA contracts are guaranteed and you go into training camp pretty much knowing at least 14 of the 15 roster spots.

But the Lakers could be an exception this year — they are bringing in a few forwards for a little training camp competition to see who fits in Mike D’Antoni’s system best.

Thursday the Lakers announced a deal with Xavier Henry to what is a camp invite deal with a chance to make the team. Henry is a three year NBA player, a 6’6” swingman who was with the Hornets last season. He’s athletic but in the NBA he has struggled to create his own shot and tends to take long two pointers rather than threes (he averaged just 0.2 threes per game last season). His defense is uninspiring. There’s potential there but it has never really shown itself before, however he might be a good fit in the up-tempo D’Antoni system.

The Lakers just signed Shawne Williams and they have Elias Harris, Ryan Kelly and Marcus Landry all will kind of compete for forward spots in camp. For an NBA roster, this is a pretty wide open completion, which will make their camp a little more interesting.

Agent says Lakers, Clippers interested in Louis Amundson

Lou Amundson

Teams know what Louis Amundson is going to give them — real energy off the bench, rebounding, and almost no offense whatsoever. He was part of a good Suns bench back in 2010 but the past three seasons have seen him bounce around the league, struggle to get regular minutes, hand-in-hand with that his production has fallen.

Maybe a team looking for a veteran big will take a chance on him.

Maybe a team like the Lakers and Clippers, Amundson’s agent told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Free agent forward Louis Amundson has sparked interest from several teams, including the Lakers and Clippers, according to his agent, Mark Bartlestein. Bartlestein said in an interview with the Los Angeles Newspaper Group that his client plans to finalize a deal with a team within the week, though he wouldn’t go into exact specifics what role and terms would best suit Amundson.

First the word of caution: A month ago we heard how Amundson was going to make his decision in a week. So don’t bet on this timeline.

Of these teams, the Lakers make a little more roster sense. The Clippers have 14 contracts on the roster and while they might use that 15th spot for a big it seems more likely they would like a guy they can develop. Yes, the Clippers have questions about depth up front (unless you are big believer in Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins) but the fact is Amundson isn’t the answer.

The Lakers would have 14 guys only if the keep second round pick Ryan Kelly — but he may not be healthy by training camp — and Summer League team leading scorer Marcus Landry. But they might let one of those two walk to make space for a veteran who can provide some depth up front (they project to have Kelly, Elias Harris, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre as bigs off the bench behind Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman, with Gasol playing plenty of five).