Ryan Kelly is getting closer to his first practice with the Lakers, but the rookie forward's grip on a roster spot might have just gotten a bit more tenuous.
Xavier Henry’s breakthrough performance in the Lakers’ preseason opener Saturday may have placed even more pressure on Kelly to show he has fully healed from the foot injury that required surgery in April.
Kelly hopes to fully participate in practice by the end of the week and then earn a roster spot by playing in at least a few preseason games. The second-round draft pick has progressed to one-on-one battles with player development coach Mark Madsen in recent days.
“He got me today a little bit,” Kelly said before the Lakers’ 104-95 exhibition victory over the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. “In the post, he’s tough to deal with.”
The Lakers had hoped the 6-foot-11 Kelly would be a force both inside and on the perimeter, where he is expected to stretch defenses with his three-point shooting. He hasn’t been able to showcase any of his skills since the Lakers drafted him, but Ryan shot down the notion that he has suffered any sort of setback in his recovery.
“I’ve noticed that people are saying I’m not 100% because I’m not playing,” Kelly said. “My foot’s 100%, it’s just that I haven’t played basketball in a long time, so I’ve got to play basketball.”
The sooner, the better.