In guard-forward Wesley Johnson, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has found another other quality player on a minimum-salary contract.
Drafted fourth in 2010 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Johnson never quite lived up to his potential coming out of Syracuse. Now 26, Johnson showed some improvement in Phoenix with the Suns last season after a July 2012 trade from the Wolves.
Johnson has good length with the potential to be a strong perimeter defender. In stretches he was able to hit the three-point shot last season with the Suns.
If the Lakers can stay healthy, with the attention veterans Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash demand, Johnson might be able to develop into a valuable role player.
Pencil him in as the team's backup to Nick Young at small forward, although the rotation will evolve once the Lakers get to training camp in October. Johnson will make $916,099 for the coming season.
With the team over the luxury tax, the Lakers had one major spending tool, their taxpayer mid-level exception of $3.2 million. Once that was spent to bring in center Chris Kaman, all Kupchak can offer to free agents is the veteran's minimum.
Earlier in the week, the Lakers added Young and point guard Jordan Farmar, also for the minimum, although Farmar's contract won't be finalized until a buyout is resolved with Turkish club Anadolu Efes.
Assuming the Farmar deal doesn't fall through, the Lakers will have 11 players under contract with the addition of Johnson. The team is also expected to sign rookie forward Ryan Kelly, taken 48th in June's NBA draft.
The Lakers will need to sign at least one more player to hit the league minimum of 13. The team can carry as many as 15 players on the roster, although they can bring up to 20 to training camp.
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