Lakers News: Signing Elias Harris Is Step in Right Direction for L.A.

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIAugust 15, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 17:  Elias Harris #20 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after he made a 3-point basket late in the second half against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 17, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

According to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Timesthe Los Angeles Lakers signed rookie Elias Harris to a two-year, minimum-salary contract. The Lakers signed Harris to their summer league squad after he went unselected at the 2013 NBA draft.

Harris may not be a high-profile player, but this signing is a step in the right direction for the Lakers.

Harris, 24, was one of the top junior players in Germany before spending four years with the Gonzaga Bulldogs. During his senior season, Harris averaged 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game on 50.1 percent shooting from the field, helping to lead Gonzaga to their first ever No. 1 ranking.

The Lakers made the signing official via their official Twitter account.

This marks a rare commitment to acquiring youth.

For those unfamiliar, Harris is a 6'8" and 239-pound forward who can play both inside and along the perimeter. If he were younger than 24, there's a high probability that Harris would've been selected during the 2013 NBA draft.

Regardless of what transpires from here on out, signing Harris is a move that displays promise for the Lakers' future.


Fitting the System

The Lakers are unlikely to use Harris in a large capacity during the 2013-14 season, especially if head coach Mike D'Antoni stays true to his refusal to utilize rookies. To be fair to D'Antoni, Harris is an undrafted player, which is a virtual guarantee of his delegation to the bench.

With that being said, signing Harris shows a dedication to the system in place.

Harris is a strong interior player with the versatility to shoot jumpers with range out to the three-point line. His numbers were down in 2012-13, but he shot 41.4 percent on 70 attempts during the 2011-12 season.

The ability is there, now it's about finding the consistency.

At worst, Harris has the potential to be a quality NBA reserve who uses his versatility to help the Lakers' second unit in future seasons. He'll provide depth at both small and power forward with his ability to both shoot the basketball, work out of the post and defend multiple positions.

For the first time in quite some time, the Lakers are building with what they know.


Aging Failure with No Tomorrow

In 2008-09 and 2009-10, the Lakers won back-to-back NBA championships with a core of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. In the three seasons since, the Lakers have attempted to keep that core intact without a commitment to adding youth.

The older the Lakers became, the further their athleticism dwindled and more distance was placed between L.A. and title legitimacy.

By signing Harris, the Lakers confirm their commitment to becoming a younger and more athletic team. As the Western Conference moves closer and closer to a full-on commitment to uptempo basketball, the Lakers simply cannot run with the opposition.

The signing of players such as Harris, Nick Young and Wesley Johnson proves the Lakers' willingness to address their needs.

It seems like a simple approach, but it was one that L.A. appeared to be unwilling to commit to in recent seasons. Despite having glaring needs, such as the absence of athletes and three-point shooters, the Lakers were unable to draw in quality role players to join their star-studded cast.

Signing Harris suggests that the Lakers will improve upon that approach in future years.