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Lakers have final roster decisions looming

October 21, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Lakers star Kobe Bryant, center, listens to teammates Ryan Kelly, left, and Jordan Hill during the Lakers' preseason loss to the Golden State Warriors in Beijing on Friday.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant, center, listens to teammates Ryan Kelly, left,… (Peter Parks / Getty Images )

As the regular season nears, the Lakers will have to make some final decisions on the roster before opening night.

"I think it's 48 hours before the first game and I do think you get to work on weekends.  I think [the NBA] changed the rules," Coach Mike D'Antoni said.  "I guess until Saturday, more or less."

The Lakers start the season Oct. 29 at home against the Clippers.  They currently have 16 players, which means at least one has to go.

Given that both Shawne Williams and Elias Harris have $100,000 of their individual contracts guaranteed, both are favorites to stick.  The team has 11 guaranteed contracts -- 13 if Williams and Harris are included with their partials.

The solid preseason from camp invitee Xavier Henry suggests the Lakers have a clear 14 headed into cut-down day.

Does the team go to the maximum 15 or keep an open roster slot at 14?

"I don't know," D'Antoni said, deferring to General Manager Mitch Kupchak.  "We've got to figure out how many we're keeping and what we're doing."

Ryan Kelly, the power forward from Duke picked 48th overall in the June draft, is on the bubble.  If the Lakers take 15 players to opening night, he might have the slight edge over forward Marcus Landry.

Kelly had foot surgery in April and missed the first half of training camp after rehabbing all summer. He's just starting to get a chance to prove himself to the team.

"I'm a pretty smart player. I'm a player who understands the game. I don't think every player stuck in my situation would be in a very good place," said Kelly. "I think I am. I'm learning the offense. Thankfully I know all the plays by now."

Kelly made his preseason debut in Beijing last Tuesday in a loss to the Golden State Warriors.  He scored six points in 12 minutes, making his first shot attempt as a pro.

"It felt great. Definitely a little bit of nerves but there's supposed to be," Kelly said. "Kobe [Bryant] said to me, 'Wow, you just fired up a three on your first shot. I think I would have tried to take it to the basket.'

"I said, 'Hey, that's what they brought me here to do.'"

Even if he does make it to opening night, Kelly still has to last to January for his contract to become fully guaranteed.


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Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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