The more you survey the free agency market and the Los Angeles Lakers & their cap situation, the easier it is to come to the conclusion that their days of tanking aren’t going to be confined to this season alone, with next year probably being another season of a complete overhaul in the roster, including the departures of Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price.
Look at the list of players the Lakers have on their roster for the 2015-2016 season as of now: Kobe Bryant ($25 million), Jordan Hill ($9 million), Julius Randle ($3.1 million), Ryan Kelly ($1.7 million) and from here it’s players without a guaranteed contract: Ed Davis who has a player option worth $1.06 million, Robert Sacre at under $1 million, Jordan Clarkson at under $1 million and Tarik Black at under $1 million. How many of them do you think are going to stay? It’s not going to be surprising if Clarkson, the poster boy for the Lakers’ development plan, is the only one.
Byron Scott was being polite when asked about Price’s role with the Lakers next season: He’s definitely a guy we’ll consider. He showed he can play and he is a type of guy you want on a team. But we have to see what we do in the draft and free agent market.
Price was also asked by the Los Angeles Daily News about his season. Price doesn’t consider it as a success. It’s nice to see him confident and believing in himself, but at the age of 31, his 5.1 points per game on 22.8 minutes a night, both career highs, it’s probably the best he’s going to get. Price has always been a player hovering above the line of NBA and the outer rims of it. Any team with any kind of aspirations can’t seriously consider him as anything but a 13th, 14th or 15th player at best. Price is out for the season due to an elbow injury.
Jeremy Lin is a different situation. His place in the league isn’t in danger. His future is a bit brighter. But Scott has been a bit more willing to give Price the benefit of the doubt this season compared to the short leash he has given Lin time and time again. There have been voices suggesting that Lin being moved around is a testament to his failure to establish himself as a meaningful player at any of his teams.
But when you see Lin play basketball, especially over the last three seasons, and the way he’s been yo-yoed in and out of lineups and having his playing time being messed around, it’s hard to come to the conclusion that his career hasn’t taken off in the way that it should have been just because he’s not good enough. When Lin is given minutes and continuity, it almost always pays off for his team. The Lakers have proven they don’t want to be that team more than once.