Only three players hold guaranteed contracts for next season, and Meeks isn't one of them. He's hoping, however, that won't prevent him from becoming a long-time Laker.
"I like the city and love it here,” he said, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. "The coaching staff is great and it's a storied organization. I always pictured playing in a organization that's prideful about winning. I love it here and hope I can stay a long time."
This season hasn't treated his team well—the 16-31 Lakers are on pace for their lowest winning percentage (.340) since the 1959-60 Minneapolis Lakers went 25-30 (.333)—but the fifth-year guard is enjoying the finest campaign of his career.
His scoring (14.7 points per game), assists (1.7), rebounds (2.9), steals (1.4) and player efficiency rating (13.9) have all risen to career-high levels. He's attempting nearly four more shots (10.9 per game) than his career average (7.2) but posting personal highs in field-goal and three-point percentages (45.0 and 40.6, respectively).
An injury-riddled backcourt rotation has increased his opportunity, and the 26-year-old has made the most of his chances.
"Meeks has been playing super,” Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles. "He's going to the basket, shooting. His defense is awesome. He just plays his rear off. He's turned into a real good basketball player."
Simply put, Meeks has been a silver lining in an otherwise unending nightmare:
Has he been good enough to keep himself in Hollywood, though?
He might actually benefit from L.A.'s open-book future. Depending on what kind of contract he's looking for, of course.
The Lakers have plenty of spots to fill, including a backup for the currently injured Kobe Bryant. The Mamba is due $48.5 million over the next two seasons, so L.A. is unlikely to invest too heavily in putting someone behind him.
Meeks should be a relatively low-cost—he's still just a 9.0-points-per-game scorer and 41.4 percent shooter for his career—protection plan, and he's someone clearly capable of stepping in when Bryant's 35-year-old frame keeps him off the floor.
If he really hopes to stay in L.A., it seems like there should be mutual interest, but only at the right price.
If tradition trumps a payday, I could buy this as a long-time partnership.
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