As is true during almost every other campaign, the Los Angeles Lakers have been at the center of the public eye during the 2013-14 season.
The Lakers sit at 14-20 with seemingly little to play for other than Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. But with an endless line of injuries, Mike D'Antoni's unwillingness (and sometimes inability) to stick with a starting lineup, and trade rumors running rampant, this has been one of the most compelling rosters in the NBA.
It feels like there's some type of move made on a daily basis, and veteran journeyman Shawne Williams found that out the hard way on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Shawne Williams Released
The Lakers' official website, via NBA.com, made it official:
The Los Angeles Lakers have waived forward Shawne Williams, it was announced today.
Williams, originally selected by the Indiana Pacers in the first round (17th overall) of the 2006 NBA Draft, signed with the Lakers on September 3, 2013. In 32 games (11 starts) this season, the 6’9” forward out of Memphis University averaged 5.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 20.2 minutes.
The Lakers roster now stands at 14 players.
On the one hand, this is a little surprising. In his first season with L.A., Williams was averaging 20.2 minutes per contest (with 11 starts), and his combination of size, athleticism and three-point shooting ability made him a nice fit for D'Antoni's squad.
Moreover, as Lakers Nation's Serena Winters noted, he was a well-liked player and a good character for the locker room:
Shawne Williams was pretty well liked amongst the guys in the locker room, definitely bonded with Swaggy. Always smiling & laughing— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) January 7, 2014
Shawne Williams rarely had anything negative to say. Has always been grateful for the opportunity to come to LA.— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) January 7, 2014
Nevertheless, this was clearly a business move. His contract would have become fully guaranteed if the Lakers didn't release him by Tuesday's deadline, so this move saves money and opens up a roster spot should L.A. need one in a trade.
Rookie Ryan Kelly, who has averaged 16.5 minutes per contest over the last six after playing 32 combined in the team's first 28 games, will now get a further chance to prove himself.
Mike D'Antoni Sticks with a Starting Lineup
According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, D'Antoni is going with the same starting five for the second game in a row:
Lakers going w/ same starting lineup vs. Dallas: Marshall, Meeks, Johnson, Gasol, Sacre— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 7, 2014
The Lakers used the same starters en route to a 137-115 defeat versus the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, but according to NBA.com, this particular five-man lineup went just minus-three in eight minutes.
Moreover, when Nick Young enters the game for Wesley Johnson, it has produced a lineup with an impressive 123.7 offensive rating in 35 total minutes, per NBA.com.
All of these are really limited samples, so take the numbers with a grain of salt. But with Kendall Marshall and Gasol playing well together, Jodie Meeks capable of lighting it up from the outside, and Young providing instant offense off the bench, this team, despite all the injuries, can still be very dangerous on the offensive end.
The defense is pretty nonexistent, but if nothing else, it's at least exciting to watch.
Xavier Henry Timetable Pushed Back
The fourth-year guard out of Kansas has missed the last three games with a bone bruise to his right knee. It was originally estimated he'd return on Thursday, Jan. 9, but according to Lakers.com's Mike Trudell, that's now being pushed back:
The timetable for Xavier Henry (knee strain) has been "moved back a bit" from the 9th to either the 13th/14th (Mon/Tues), per LAL PR.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 6, 2014
If Henry misses the Jan. 14 contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he has four more games to sit out.
If all were healthy (not counting Steve Nash), who would you want to see starting at PG for the Lakers?
That, in turn, means Marshall will continue to see all the minutes he can handle at point guard. The Phoenix Suns' second-year castoff has run wild in his first two starts with the Lakers, averaging 14.5 points, 16.0 assists and six rebounds per contest.
Offensively, Marshall, who spent two years orchestrating North Carolina's fast-paced offense as one of the best passers in America, looks like an ideal fit in D'Antoni's offense, and it can only be seen as a positive that he will continue to run the show for a while.