The Los Angeles Lakers announced a couple of signing in the last week to bring their roster to the maximum 20 allowed for NBA teams going into training camp.
Reports came out on Wednesday that the Lakers are nearing an agreement to bring back Metta World Peace for another season, his 17th as a pro overall. All indications are that the deal will be for 1 year and not guaranteed.
Metta played sparingly last season for the Lakers, serving more as a veteran leader there to help guide the youth on the Lakers roster and as a sparring partner in practice for Julius Randle.
Lakers announced the signing of journeyman forward Thomas Robinson on Wednesday. Robinson was drafted as the 5th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings but has bounced around the league since that time, playing for 5 different NBA teams. If Robinson can crack the Lakers opening day roster it will be his 6th team in 5 seasons.
The Lakers roster now stands at 20 going into training camp which is the maximum allowed by the NBA. The Lakers can only carry 15 players on their opening day roster and currently have 12 players with guaranteed deals; however, having guaranteed money for the upcoming season does not mean they are exempt from being cut as the Lakers can easily eat the money owed to that player to open up a spot of another player they feel is deserving of a spot on the team.
We rank the players most likely to earn a spot on the team, starting with those that are obviously not going anywhere down to the those that are likely going to need to search for a place to play once training camp and preseason ends.
Locks to make roster and rotation
- D’Angelo Russell – Guard – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Lakers are lacking offensive punch so Russell will be counted on to become the Lakers go-to scorer and high usage player. The season will go the way of Russell’s development; if he takes a huge step in his development so will the Lakers but if he plays similarly to how he did last season the Lakers are looking at another <20 win season.
2. Brandon Ingram – Forward – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- The Lakers horrid franchise low 17 win season last year allowed them the opportunity snag what many believe to be the prize of the 2016 NBA Draft in Brandon Ingram. Ingram might not start to begin the season but he is pegged to be a fixture in their starting line-up for many years to come.
3. Loul Deng – Forward – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Deng is the Lakers big free agent signing this past off-season and will play a pivotal role in helping the Lakers return to respectability and showing the youth how to win.
4. Jordan Clarkson – Guard – Guaranteed contract – Yes
- Clarkson is part of the Lakers impressive young core but is a little farter along than the rest being he is 24 years old and entering his 3rd season. Clarkson is the most polished offensive player from the Lakers core but is still far from being an even adequate defensive player which will be needed if you’re looking for an ideal pairing with Russell in the backcourt. For now his spot on this team is secure but if his defensive game doesn’t make a huge leap this season we can see a scenario where the Lakers begin a search for a better fit at his position.
5. Julius Randle – Forward – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- The most questions about how a player is going to fit in the system that head coach Luke Walton will likely implement involves Julius Randle. Randle is already an elite rebounder at the NBA level but is still very unpolished on the offensive end where he still lacks an dependable outside shot which will clog things up for the Lakers offense. Randle is also not the best option as a Pick and Roll man over guys like Mozgov, Black or Nance since his small hands and lack of ability to finish at the rim would reduce that plays’ effectiveness. He is still an immense talent with great upside, it is just not very far along at this point
6. Larry Nance Jr. – Forward – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Nance had a great summer league before succumbing to injury. Nance is entering his 2nd year but he plays more like an NBA veteran which has a lot to do with the fact he’ll be 24 this season and played 4 full years at Wyoming. Nance is an active defender, very good rebounder and probably the Lakers best option at the 4 in terms of running pick and roll with his ability to dive, catch lobs and finish at the rim. If Nance improves his outside shot considerably he could compete for a starting job.
7. Timofey Mozgov – Center – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Many questioned the Lakers decision to sign Timofey Mozgov to a huge contract which is guaranteed for 4 seasons but contract questions aside, he’ll help and should be a lock to get the starting center spot for the Lakers. Mozgov won’t put up big numbers and if you don’t pay attention you might not even really see his impact in a game but he’s a solid rim protector, is active, catches everything with his big mitts and is very effective in pick and rolls.
8. Ivica Zubac – Center – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Zubac was impressive in Las Vegas playing for the Lakers summer league team; much of that had to do with many never seeing the 2nd round pick from Croatia prior to summer league play. Zubac showed great shot blocking instincts, soft hands and a smooth stroke from the outside. Unlikely he’ll beat out Mozgov, Black and Yi for a spot in the rotation but based on his skill set it’s not out of the question. He’s a lock to make the roster.
9. Lou Williams – Guard – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Unfairly, Williams received quite a bit of heat from a segment of Lakers’ fans last seasons due to being a Byron Scott favorite and getting a chunk of minutes that many wanted to go to then rookie D’Angelo Russell. Williams had one of his typical solid seasons where he provided reliable scoring at an efficient rate (a career high .584 true shooting percentage). With the Lakers going the route of the youth movement Williams with his very reasonable salary could always be a candidate to be included in a trade but for now he will have a big role by providing scoring punch off the bench.
10. Yi Jianlian – Forward/Center – Guaranteed contract: No
- Yi was a late signing in the off-season, having to wait for Olympic play to end as he was busy helping the Chinese National Team compete. Yi was impressive averaging 20.4 points (ranked 3rd overall), 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.2 blocks and shot 46.7 percent from the 3 point line during the Rio Olympics. While Yi’s last NBA stint which ended in 2012 was uneventful he’s played well during his time in China and with the game changing where spacing is key Yi’s skill set of a big that can shoot and put the ball on the floor could result in a successful revival of his NBA career and definitely a spot on this Lakers roster.
Locks to make team but out of rotation
11. Tarik Black – Forward/Center – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Black has always shown hustle and ability to rebound when given time but has never seemed to get on the good side of any coach that he’s played under since his time with the Lakers. Black skill set could be effective as a center in an offense that will be similar to that of the Warriors with his ability to dive, catch and finish. Black is guaranteed a little more than 6 million this coming season so it would be highly unlikely that he’ll be cut regardless of how he plays in training camp.
12. Jose Calderon – Guard – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Calderon is up there in age (will be 35 on 9/28) but he can still run an offense and stroke it from the outside. Calderon seems to be a perfect mentor for D’Angelo Russell who is still far from making great use of his exceptional court vision. Calderon has a career assist average of 6.5 and is has an exceptional 4 to 1 career assist to turnover ratio. Calderon is owed 7.7 million in his final year of his contract so that might be too big of hit on the cap for the Lakers to waive, even in a waive-and-stretch, so odds are that Calderon will be on the opening day roster.
13. Marcelo Huertas – Guard – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- With Calderon on board Huertas seems redundant but we do know that the Lakers players and staff love having him on the roster as a positive veteran personality on the team. Still with only being owed 1.5 million guaranteed for the upcoming season and not providing much more on the court that they don’t already get from Calderon there is still a good chance he is waived. We put his odds at making the team at 60%.
Players on the bubble
14. Anthony Brown – Forward – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- Brown has yet to show he is the 3 and D player that many had hoped he’d become and the type of player the Lakers need. Brown didn’t do much in summer league play to show he is making progress but he is only entering his 2nd season and will be just 24 years old this coming season so there is still a lot of time for him to reach his potential. We place Brown’s odds at making the team at 60%
15. Zach Auguste – Forward – Guaranteed contract: No
- It isn’t a certainty that the Lakers will carry the maximum players on their roster but if they do we feel Zach Auguste will continue his impressive play from summer league throughout training camp and the preseason. What could keep Auguste off the team is that his skill set if very similar to Larry Nance Jr. and Thomas Robinson but what Auguste has going for him is that he’s young (23 years old) and unproven so he gets aided by the potential tag. One thing is certain, Auguste will not lose a spot on the team due to a lack of effort. If the Lakers carry 15 we see Auguste just squeaking by and making the cut.
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16. Thomas Robinson – Forward – Guaranteed contract: No
- Like Auguste, Robinson’s skill set is similar to that of Larry Nance Jr. and unlike Auguste he does not have the benefit of potential to become something more. We know what Robinson brings to the table as we’ve seen it on display for the last 4 seasons with 5 different teams. Maybe if the Lakers roster was void of talent at the forward position Robinson would have a better chance at cracking the roster but under the current circumstances he’ll be a long shot to make the team.
17. Nick Young – Forward – Guaranteed contract: Yes
- The fact that Young is still on the Lakers roster is shocking after the whole video fiasco last season with him and D’Angelo Russell but here he is with training camp about 2 weeks away. Young is owed 10 million over the next 2 seasons which is actually a very reasonable contract for what Young can provide offensively but his immaturity and history with Russell should be reason for the Lakers to move him elsewhere prior to the start of the season. If the Lakers are unable to find a trade partner we see the Lakers waiving him and just taking the hit on the cap for the next few years.
Long shots to make roster
18. Metta World Peace – Forward – Guaranteed contract: No
- Metta will be 37 years old in November and appears to be a long shot to make the roster. Metta was effective in bringing up the defensive intensity for the team when entering games last season and served as a good mentor and training partner for Julius Randle but with a few solid veterans on the roster that will actually produce on the floor we can’t see Metta earning a spot on the team. A possibility is Metta joining the Lakers in some other capacity so that he can continue working with Randle and other Lakers youth.
19. Travis Wear – Forward – Guaranteed contract: No
- Wear is a local product who was born in nearby Santa Ana, CA and went to UCLA. He just turned 26 on September 21st which makes him a little older than the Lakers young core. Wear has played overseas and had one stint in the NBA with the Knicks in the 2014-15 season. Wear is a good addition to training camp because of his professional approach, fundamentally sound play and sound understanding and execution within a motion offense; however, he simply does not have the talent to crack the Lakers roster based on the other talent on the roster which he’ll be competing against.
20. Julian Jacobs – Guard – Guaranteed contract: No
- Roster is guard heavy which means the odds are heavily against Jacobs making the team, even with an impressive showing in camp and preseason if he can make it that far. He’s a local product having played his college ball at USC and grew up in nearby Las Vegas.