With news coming out on Wednesday that the Los Angeles Lakers waived Dan Gadzuric and Eric Boateng, which downsized the team’s roster now to 17 players, it makes the fight for the final few spots on the roster a stiffer competition.
11 of the players the roster have guaranteed contract with the remaining six having either partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed deals. The team’s partially guaranteed deals belong to Shawne Williams and Elias Harris, who both have already been paid $100,000 0f their contracts which gives them the edge on making the Lakers regular season roster.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and head coach Mike D’Antoni have stated this preseason that the team will carry 14 or 15 players this upcoming season. So what this does is leave Xavier Henry, Marcus Landry, Ryan Kelly and Darius Johnson-Odom fighting for potentially up to two spots on the team’s roster for opening night on Oct. 29 against the Los Angeles Clippers.
So here is what each player has done so far in this preseason:
In the Lakers’ preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors, the 22-year-old had a very productive game showing his complete arsenal in a 29 point performance filled with aggressive drives to the basket, outside shooting and displaying the ability to get to the free throw line. Henry followed that game up with a 15 point output in the team’s second preseason game against the Denver Nuggets.
The only question that surrounds Henry is his shot selection and at times it has shown during this preseason but his overall production has put himself in a good position to make the team. He is currently dealing with a left wrist issue and during Thursday’s game in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena against the Sacramento Kings he experienced cramping the second half which limited his time on the floor.
Landry in Los Angeles four preseason games so far has played inconsistently during his time on the floor. He is averaging a meager 5.3 points in 15.3 minutes per game this preseason on .269 (7-26) shooting from the field and .238 (5-21) from beyond the arc. The 27-year-old is known for his 3-point shooting, but his continued porous shooting from the outside may hinder his chances on making the team.
It was his excellent 3-point shooting that D’Antoni has praised about was supposed to be his niche on this team and also his past experience playing under D’Antoni in the 2009-10 season with the New York Knicks, but all of that does not seem to be going his favor right now with his poor shooting so far. Landry’s 3-point shooting this preseason may ultimately decide his fate on being on the Lakers’ opening day roster in a couple of weeks.
In the Lakers’ second preseason game, Landry had his most productive game scoring 13 points on 4-0f-11 shooting from the field including 3-of-9 from the 3-point range.
In his second go-around with the team, Johnson-Odom has been limited in his playing time this preseason as he has only played in two of the Lakers’ four games for a combined 20 minutes. This limitation on his time on the floor has not allowed him to show what he can bring besides a couple of good plays in his two games.
His highlights this preseason include his impressive dunk in the Oct. 6 game against the Nuggets at the Staples Center and his bounce pass assists to Jodie Meeks in Thursday game against the Kings. If Johnson-Odom continues to receive limited minutes for the remainder of this preseason, it will put more doubt on the likelihood his makes the team.
The Lakers second round selection in the 2013 NBA draft has yet to touch the floor or even dress for any of the team’s preseason game. Kelly is still recovering from his foot surgery in April and is hoping to practice with his teammates within the next week.
The former Duke Blue Devil has not had the chance to prove himself or show how he would fit with this Lakers’ team this preseason, but his skill set as a stretch power forward with the ability to shot the outside and run the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop give him a chance to be a member of the team this season.
If all goes well, Kelly should be able to suit it up at near the end of this preseason and showcase what he can provide to the Lakers. Health is key for his possibility of being a Laker on Oct. 29.
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