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2014 NBA Free Agency: Lakers re-sign Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Xavier Henry
- Updated: July 19, 2014
The Los Angeles Lakers continued to put the finishing touches to their roster on Friday as they re-signed a trio of forwards in Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Henry and Johnson’s deals are believed to be one-year contracts at the veteran’s minimum worth about $1 million, and Kelly has agreed to a two-year deal.
Henry in his first season with Los Angeles had a breakout season with career-high marks across the board in points (10.0), assists (1.2), rebounds (2.7), field goal percentage (.417), and minutes per game (21.1). Despite injuries limiting him to just 43 games, he scored 20-plus points six times last season, which is a mark he had not reached in 133 games prior to the 2013-14 campaign. This included scoring a career-best 27 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 1.
The 23-year-old expressed his excitement to rejoin the Lakers next season via Twitter on Friday night:
— Xavier Henry (@XavierHenry) July 18, 2014
Johnson also had a career-best season with Los Angeles last year as he posted career-high averages in points (9.1), rebounds (4.4), blocks (0.97) and steals (1.1). His season included grabbing a career-best 15 rebounds with 15 points against the Memphis Grizzlies on April 13, which was also his third double-double of his career and had four overall on the season.
He also played a career-high 44 minutes against the Phoenix Suns on January 15, which was a game that he also hit a career mark in free throws (six), and scored 20-plus points (22) for the 10th time of his career. The return of both Johnson and Henry helps solidify the small forward position behind projected starter Nick Young.
The re-signing of Kelly was expected after the team made the $1.1 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent earlier in the offseason. In his rookie season with the Lakers he struggled initially to get on the court, but produced when he received playing time as he earned 25 starts in 59 games played in the 2013-14 campaign. Kelly notched a career-best 26 points and six rebounds against the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 5. He had his first double-double of his career with 24 points and 11 rebounds on March 7 against the Denver Nuggets.
He also became only the third Lakers rookie in the last 20 years to record 17-plus points in consecutive games. For the season he averaged 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game.
Kelly’s addition makes for an even more crowded frontcourt that already features Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer, and seventh overall pick Julius Randle. It will be interesting to see how power forward and center position rotations shape out with plenty of depth at each spot.
In related news, the Lakers also waived Kendall Marshall, who had a team option for next season. If cleared through waivers Los Angeles reportedly has interest in bringing back the 22-year-old. This leaves the team with two point guards on the roster with Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin. They are also expected to sign the 46th overall pick in this year’s draft in Jordan Clarkson, who they paid $1.8 million to get the selection from the Washington Wizards.
Marshall was signed by the team in December of last season when they were hit with a flurry of injuries to Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar that left them without a point guard to play. Marshall stepped in and immediately provided stability to the position.
In his first 16 starts for Los Angeles he averaged 11.9 points and 11.5 assists per game, and had seven double-doubles during that span. This also included a stretch of five straight double-doubles, which made him one of only three players to have five straight point/assist double-double games last season.
Marshall also handed out double-digit assists 25 times, was tied for seventh in the league with 15 point/assist double-doubles, and ranked second in the NBA behind Chris Paul with nine games of 14-plus assists.
These moves put the Lakers’ roster at 12 players under contract for next season.
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images