Reserve guard Wayne Ellington took an indefinite leave of absence from the Lakers after his father was shot and killed in Philadelphia.
Wayne Ellington Sr., 57, was shot in the head by an unknown assailant Sunday night while driving a 2001 Oldsmobile that then struck two parked cars on the street, according to NBC-10 in Philadelphia. Ellington was taken to the hospital and died early Monday.
The Philadelphia Police Department plans to ask for the public’s help in identifying and finding the gunman, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Ellington found out about the death while walking to his car after the Lakers’ victory Sunday night over Charlotte at Staples Center. He said in a brief statement Tuesday he and his family were “devastated by the news” and that he appreciated “everyone’s support” while also asking for privacy.
Ellington, 26, was signed by the Lakers shortly before training camp in September and made the opening-night roster with a non-guaranteed contract. He has become an important rotation player, averaging 7.8 points and posing one of the team’s few three-point threats.
“Our players are upset for their friend and teammate,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement Tuesday. “Additionally, ownership and all Lakers employees are also saddened by this tragedy. Those of us who work with and have gotten to know Wayne have come to know what a wonderful and caring person he is.”
Lakers Coach Byron Scott didn’t know when Ellington would return to the team, saying, “All of us have to give him space right now to grieve and to deal with this with his family.”
Not using exception
The Lakers suited up only 10 players Tuesday in a 107-102 loss to Memphis but don’t plan to use the disabled-player exception they received from the NBA for Julius Randle’s injury.
They expect Ryan Kelly to return from a hamstring injury Wednesday against New Orleans and hope Nick Young can return next week from a torn thumb ligament.
Furthermore, the Lakers have the NBA-maximum 15 players on their roster and must waive or trade a player to open up room to use the exception. Ellington and Ronnie Price are the only players without guaranteed contracts. Price is the team’s backup point guard.
The exception is worth half of Randle’s salary and must be used before March 10 to sign or claim a player off waivers for $1.5 million, or trade for a player making up to $1.6 million. The acquired player cannot be under contract beyond this season.
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