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It’s only logical that many faces on the current Lakers roster won’t be back next season. Isn’t that how it works when you clear the deck of contracts?
In some cases, it will be players who don’t fit into the future rebuild plans, either for financial reasons, age or style of play. There will also be the players who are lost simply by virtue of the fact that they accept better contracts.
Here’s a list of those who may not make the cut:
MarShon Brooks played solid minutes for several games in a row after arriving from Golden State, including a 23-point game against the Sacramento Kings on February 28. He’s fallen steadily out of favor since then however, either playing little or not at all. Brooks is an unrestricted free agent and will probably be looking for his next job this summer.
Xavier Henry is one of a number of low-cost audition projects this season who has shown real promise. He’s athletic, drives hard to the basket and draws a lot of fouls. He injured his knee partway through the season however, and he has recently been playing through pain as he tries to make the case for a new contract. The multi-positional backcourt player could wind up being a victim of the numbers crunch, especially if the Lakers resign Young.
Jodie Meeks would like to stay with the Lakers, and they’d probably like to keep him as well. Known primarily as an outside shooter, he has worked hard to improve his overall game and is having a breakout year at 15.3 points per game. By renouncing his rights, the Lakers are taking a risk. Meeks will probably be picked up by a team that will pay more than his current salary of $1.55 million.
Wesley Johnson is another test case who has shown promise this season. The former fourth overall draft pick played for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns, before coming to the Lakers on a one-year minimum salary deal. A natural wing, Johnson has started 54 out of 66 games, while often being used out of position as an undersized power forward. He will probably get other offers before the Lakers are done playing the field.
Veteran big man Chris Kaman came to the Lakers believing that he’d be filling a role. Instead, he’s collected a whole lot of DNPs. He has been open about his dissatisfaction, telling Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, “Never did I think I would come here and not play, otherwise I probably wouldn't have come.”
It will almost certainly be a one-and-done season for Kaman.
And finally, we get to the Lakers’ most significant free agent, their starting center, Pau Gasol. The two-time NBA champion is the Lakers’ leading scorer this season, averaging 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. It’s no secret however, that he and D’Antoni are simply not on the same page. While Gasol is Bryant’s closet ally on the team, he’s also making $19,285,850, and he simply isn’t in the long-range rebuild plans. He’ll be chased by other teams this summer and will likely be moving on.
Gasol is a sure-fire future Hall of Famer and hopefully will have his jersey hung from the Staples Center rafters some day.