Expiring Contracts LA Lakers Shouldn't Renew

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2013

Expiring Contracts LA Lakers Shouldn't Renew

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    The Los Angeles Lakers have seven players whose contracts expire at season's end, and that includes Dwight Howard and frontcourt savior Earl Clark.

    That number climbs to nine players if you factor in Jodie Meeks and his team option and Metta World Peace's early-termination option.

    With significant financial decisions looming concerning Howard and Pau Gasol (who's owed over $19 million in 2013-14), the Lakers could be looking to shed some cap space or simply dump players who didn't pan out on one-year deals this season.

    Note: All salary figures retrieved from HoopsHype, unless otherwise specified.

Devin Ebanks

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    Once a serviceable body in Mike Brown's rotation, Devin Ebanks has fallen off the map since the arrival of head coach Mike D'Antoni.

    Ebanks was a legitimate contributor during the Los Angeles Lakers' 2011-12 postseason run, averaging 14 minutes per game in the nine contests he saw action in.

    Despite possessing good length and overall size at small forward, D'Antoni has opted to go with a platoon of Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison, leaving Ebanks as one of the last men off of the bench.

    The Lakers won't lose much by letting Ebanks walk, and a new opportunity could provide the West Virginia product with a fresh start and a chance to grow under a new head coach.

Darius Morris

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    Darius Morris has shown flashes of potential in his second NBA season as he's seen his minutes nearly double under head coach Mike D'Antoni (up from 8.9 minutes per game to 15.8 per game). 

    However, despite whatever potential Morris may possess, the Lakers already have three point guards on the roster, each of whom is on the books for next season.

    Steve Blake is owed $4 million while Chris Duhon is due $3.9 million in 2013-14. Combine those two salaries totaling nearly $8 million with the $9.3 million that Steve Nash is due, and the Lakers simply don't have the room to pay any more point guards.

Jodie Meeks

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    When the Los Angeles Lakers signed Jodie Meeks in the summer of 2012, it was to fill a void they had on the wing.

    In need of perimeter scorers, and more specifically a three-point specialist, the Lakers reached out to Meeks, signing him to a two-year deal, with the second year a team option worth $1,550,000. 

    Despite living up to his billing as a reliable three-point shooter (37.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc), Meeks has virtually nothing else to offer on the offensive end.

    Meeks' dribble-drive ability is average at best, and he rarely puts himself in good position to make plays around the rim.

    Combine that with the fact that he's undersized as a 6'4'' shooting guard and he isn't an ideal wing defender, and you have an asset that the Lakers can do without.

    With shooters like Kyle Korver set to hit the open market this summer, the Lakers would be wise to decline Meeks' option and explore some more appealing options.

Antawn Jamison

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    Antawn Jamison's first stint in purple and gold has been a rocky one, characterized by promotions and demotions, pleasing offensive performances and of course, very little defense.

    According to Basketball-Reference, Jamison's shooting percentage is at a four-year high (46 percent), while his offensive rating (113 points per 100 possessions) and win-shares per 48 minutes (.123) are both at six-year highs.

    Despite those encouraging signs, Jamison's defense is still highly questionable, as his defensive rating sits at a lousy 106.

    Jamison will be 37 years old when the 2013-14 season gets underway, and the Lakers could make a play for a younger, more complete player in free-agency.

    Of the possible replacements for Jamison set to hit the open market, Portland Trail Blazers' center J.J. Hickson stands out as one of the most appealing.

    Hickson could become even more appealing if the Lakers appease any trade request Pau Gasol may make this summer (via Los Angeles Times).

Contracts That Should Be Renewed

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    Dwight Howard: The most notable expiring contract in the Los Angeles Lakers' possession, it's starting to look more and more likely that Dwight Howard will remain with his new team long-term.

    According to ESPN'S Chris Broussard, the Lakers have faith that Howard will be extending his stay in L.A.:

    Sources have told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne that the Lakers are "very confident" Howard will remain with the team this summer.

    Howard has steadfastly refused to reveal his plans for this summer, and sources say he truly does not know what he will do. The sources add that he definitely will not ask to be traded.

    At this juncture, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Howard is not donning purple and gold next season.

    Earl Clark: After paying his dues in Phoenix and Orlando, Earl Clark appears to have found a home in Los Angeles.

    Although he was thrust into Mike D'Antoni's starting lineup under less than ideal circumstances, Clark has flourished in Pau Gasol's former starting role.

    And now that Gasol is out indefinitely, Clark is going to be given every opportunity to earn himself some big bucks this summer.

    With a steady shooting stroke (48.6 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three), Clark has looked polished, poised and confident, averaging 7.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

    Given Gasol's uncertain future with the franchise, it's fair to assume that the Lakers will lock up Clark long-term.

    Metta World Peace: Metta World Peace's future is tied directly to the decision he makes regarding his early-termination option.

    Should he choose not to exercise it, World Peace will earn $7.7 million next season, which may be the primary reason why he chooses to stick around in L.A.

    Turning 34 shortly after the 2013-14 season begins, it's hard to see why World Peace would want a change of scenery when he's guaranteed substantial dollars in 2013-14.