Why the Lakers shouldn’t re-sign their role players to one-year contracts

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The Lakers have 11 players whose contracts expire this summer:

  • Pau Gasol
  • Jordan Hill
  • Chris Kaman
  • Jodie Meeks
  • MarShon Brooks
  • Nick Young
  • Jordan Farmar
  • Xavier Henry
  • Wesley Johnson
  • Kent Bazemore
  • Ryan Kelly

Aside from Gasol, whose stature rises above, they’re role players who might have value when the Lakers next get good. So, it makes some sense to bide time with the best of that group.

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily New in an article about Henry and the Lakers holding mutual interest on re-uniting:

the Lakers are hoping to retain all role players on one-year contracts on relatively inexpensive deals to maximize financial flexibility for high caliber players, such as LeBron James in 2014, Kevin Love in 2015 or Kevin Durant in 2016.

If the Lakers want to maximize their chances of acquiring another star after this offseason, they shouldn’t re-sign players to one-year contracts.

Anyone the Lakers re-sign to a one-year contract, because he’d have bird rights or early bird rights after the deal, could veto any trade next season.

Once the contract expires in 2015, the Lakers would have plenty of flexibility. But if a star becomes available in a trade sooner – looking at you Kevin Love – the Lakers would be at a severe disadvantage. You think Xavier Henry and the others would approve a trade that sends them from Los Angeles to Minnesota? No way.

An easy workaround would be signing those players to two-year contracts with the second year unguaranteed, but they might not go for such restrictive deals. The veto power applies only to players on one-year deals.

It also applies only to players re-signing. Unless they can convince their current role players to accept additional unguaranteed years on their next contracts, the Lakers might be best off signing new players to one-year deals.

If the Lakers want to extend their rebuild into 2014-15, they’ve backed themselves into a corner with a limited ability to re-sign the players they’ve already invested time in while simultaneously keeping flexibility.