The Lakers would be wise to keep Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter around for a few years. The two 2nd round picks from this years draft represent the only youth on the current Lakers roster aside from an injury-prone Andrew Bynum (depending on whether they re-sign Shannon Brown or not).
There are a couple of reasons why both have a good chance to make the squad this year. First, as 2nd round picks, their salary for the season will be around 500k. Considering that the Lakers are over the luxury tax and pay double for any amount over the line, having two players making the minimum will alleviate some of the financial pressure the team is under. Second, both just finished a strong Summer season in which they showed the athleticism and energy that the Lakers can make use of this year.
Now, standard practice in the NBA is to offer 1-year contracts to 2nd round picks unless they are Euro-players that teams will keep overseas for a while to develop. I'm hoping that Mitch Kupchack will have the insight to keep and develop some young talent in the years going forward.
This offseason, the Lakers added some veteran contributors to the team in Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff. While these players, particularly Blake and Barnes should contribute more consistency, all three players are over 30 years old. In fact, the only players under 30 on the current roster are Sasha Vujacic and Bynum. What this means is that this current roster is really vulnerable to injury and fatigue and those middle 40 games will not be easy for a team built to win the last 16.
It probably won't matter as much this season since Blake and Barnes will be motivated to get their first ring and the Kobe/Phil tandem will probably keep the rest of the team in line. However, there will be times this year and more often in the next few years where fresh legs will be needed to limit the minutes that Kobe/Pau/Fisher/Artest are playing.
This is where Ebanks and Caracter come in. Maybe neither will be stars in the NBA but both seem capable of developing into solid rotation guys in the league. Ebanks is a long forward who currently makes up for his lack of skill with effort and athleticism. Caracter is built like a bull and has some nice touch around the rim and out to 15-feet to pair with quick feet and a scorers mentality. Young guys like this are useful, especially on a veteran-laden team that will have nights when their energy just isn't there.
Ideally, you want to sign these players to 3-year deals with the 2nd season a team option and the 3rd season a player option. This way, you'll get a chance to develop some young players who might end up being key pieces down the road. People tend to forget that just a couple of seasons ago, the Lakers were one of the younger teams in the league. They had a young core (Farmar, Bynum, Vujacic, Ariza) that sped up the pace in the middle quarters of games and generally played well enough to spell Kobe from playing 40 minutes a game. With Artest now in Ariza's spot, Farmar replaced by Blake and another year under the belt of the Kobe/Fish/Pau/Odom core, you have a much older, slower, albeit more experienced team.
Hopefully Mitch Kupchack will do the smart thing and lock up the young guys for a couple of years, re-sign Shannon Brown and add another young player in the draft next season. It doesn't seem as important now, but it's going to matter this March when you have a team of tired Vets waiting for the playoffs to start and even more so in the coming seasons when Kobe will be entering his 15th and 16th seasons in the league.