Which 2013 Free-Agent Gamble Is Most Likely to Pan Out for the LA Lakers?

D.J. Foster@@fosterdjContributor ISeptember 17, 2013

Via ProBasketballTalk
Via ProBasketballTalk

Not long ago, the Los Angeles Lakers had the luxury of gambling on unheralded players and not necessarily depending on them for production. If a gamble worked out? Great. If it didn't? They were still great.

The Lakers usually hit more than they missed when it came to these unheralded free-agent or trade acquisitions. Guys like Devean George, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown outplayed their previous reputations and seemed to fit perfectly within a very defined system.

Mike D'Antoni is no Phil Jackson, obviously, but the Lakers are once again digging in the discard pile for someone who can play a very distinct offensive style. The only difference now? The Lakers need the help.

With 11 guaranteed contracts on the books (and second-round pick Ryan Kelly likely earning a spot as well), these players may be fighting for just one or two spots. Let's handicap the race.


Elias Harris, F, Partially Guaranteed Contract

At one point during his freshman season at Gonzaga, Elias Harris was projected by some scouts to be a late lottery pick. Four years later, he went undrafted. Although the hype balloon deflated for Harris over time, there's still hope that the German forward can ride his high offensive skill level to an NBA roster spot.

Harris does face more than a few obstacles in the NBA. At 6'8", he's a classic tweener who probably isn't quick enough to guard NBA 3s, but might not be big enough to help man the back line of an NBA defense, either. 

What Harris has going in his favor, however, is a pretty good touch on his jumper. Harris was a 35 percent career three-point shooter on mostly wide-open attempts at Gonzaga, but his mid-range game is solid and he's a physical defensive rebounder as well.

Bottom line: Harris has to knock down a lot of jumpers to have a chance to make the team.

The Lakers were impressed enough with his summer league performance to give him (and Shawne Williams) a partially guaranteed contract, per the Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus, so he does have a leg up on the competition, especially since it will cost the Lakers $100,000 dollars of dead money to move on without him.

Still, based on his inconsistent college play, lack of position and a shooting stroke that tends to come and go, Harris could very well struggle to make the cut.

Prediction: Released Before Season

Shawne Williams, F, Partially Guaranteed Contract

If his left foot is healed and he's in playing shape, Shawne Williams might be the favorite out of the four free agents to make the roster.

A lot of that is because Williams, alongside Marcus Landry, has already played under Mike D'Antoni in the past. Better yet? He had the best season of his career with the D'Antoni-led Knicks in the 2010-11 season, showing serious potential as a true stretch 4 who could really knock down the deep ball.

Williams hit 40 percent of his 212 attempts from behind the arc that year, but foot surgery sidelined him for much of 2011-12 and all of last year.

Williams might not bring a whole lot else to the table other than his perimeter shooting and length, but he does have the advantage of that partially guaranteed deal in addition to knowing D'Antoni's system and preferred style of play. He'll have the leg up mentally so long as the body is still willing.

Prediction: Makes Roster

Xavier Henry, G, Non-Guaranteed Deal

When he came into the league after just one year at Kansas, Xavier Henry was touted as a smooth and polished wing with a good feel for the game. All that might still be true, but it's been covered up by Henry's complete inability to penetrate, score at the rim, defend quicker players or shoot the deep ball.

Shooting guards who can't shoot and spread the floor simply don't make rosters unless they have another truly elite skill. Can D'Antoni's system really work with Henry not providing any floor spacing? In his three years in the league, Henry has shot just 13-of-45 from behind the arc, 40.3 percent from the field and a woeful 62.4 percent from the line.

Nothing in his stats or game tape suggests he should be an NBA player.

Of course, there is the slight glimmer of hope that Henry can rediscover his stroke and go back to his sweet-shooting ways we saw at Kansas. This is a lottery-ticket camp invite, but the odds certainly aren't in Henry's favor. 

Prediction: Released Before Season

Marcus Landry, SF, Non-Guaranteed Deal

All the stars might finally be aligning for Marcus Landry's return to the NBA. Landry has been out of the league since he played for (guess who?) Mike D'Antoni and the New York Knicks in the 2009-10 season. The little brother of Kings forward Carl Landry is now 27 years old, and he's worked his tail off to get back in the league. 

Landry was undeniably one of the D-League's best players last season, averaging 16.5 points per game with a whopping 3.7 made three-pointers on 42.8 percent shooting from behind the arc. Landry has redefined himself as a perimeter specialist, and he was probably the best player on the Lakers' summer league team this year as well, putting up 15.2 points a contest.

Out of all the free agents the Lakers signed, Landry has the most potential to shine in Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun, three-point-shooting bonanza. He looks like the best fit, both with the personnel the Lakers have and the style of play they'll employ. 

Prediction: Makes Roster


The Lakers have gone all-in on the offensive side of the ball this offseason, signing Nick Young and Chris Kaman and drafting pure shooter Ryan Kelly. While none of the above players is capable of dragging this defense to respectable levels (if Dwight Howard couldn't do it...), it's more likely that the player who best aids the plan of "pace and space" will make the roster.

That player just might be Marcus Landry.