Roster Decisions Close
The Lakers have some bookkeeping to take care of in the next two weeks, decisions to make on contract extensions and options that will occupy General Manager Mitch Kupchak and the coaching staff until the season opener.
The team must decide by Oct. 31 whether to bring back Sasha Vujacic and Andrew Bynum next season, the former being a reasonably weighty question and the latter a no-brainer.
Vujacic averaged 3.6 points in his first two pro seasons and is due to make $1.8 million next season, a hefty raise compared to the $974,000 he will earn this season. Bynum, the 10th pick in the 2005 draft, averaged 1.6 points and 1.7 rebounds last season and will make $2.2 million next season.
“Typically we wait until the end of the month to make that decision,” Kupchak said Monday. “They both have had good training camps.”
The Lakers are casually negotiating a contract extension with Brian Cook, who makes $1.8 million this season and will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season if the Lakers don’t sign him by Oct. 31.
“We’ve had some talks with his representative,” Kupchak said. “I don’t know if anything will get done or not.”
Cook averaged 6.7 points and 3.4 rebounds over his first three seasons.
“I’d love to be here,” Cook said. “I love the city, I love the people. I’m comfortable in this offense. I think it suits my game well.”
Less time will be spent on the status of Ronny Turiaf and Smush Parker, whose contracts become guaranteed if they are still on the roster in two weeks.
“I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be,” Kupchak said. “It’s coach’s decision, but right now it looks to me like Smush is one of our starting guards and Ronny’s had a great camp.”
Turiaf will make $664,000 and Parker will make $798,000.
With Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown sitting out Sunday’s game, Bynum started at center and did his best to stay with the run-and-fun Phoenix Suns.
“I thought he did very well,” assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. “It was a challenge for him, the speed of the game, whether or not he was going to get back. We’ve all been on him about loping up and down the floor. He did run the floor well most of the time. A couple times he reverted to his old habits.”
Bynum, who will be 19 on Oct. 27, jumped way too early on a lob pass and could have had more rebounds than he did. He had eight points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
“When he goes in for rebounds, he still has his hands in his pockets and I think again he almost got hit in the head with a ball that ricocheted off [the rim],” Rambis said. “He’s got to get in the habit of when he goes in, he gets his hands up.
“I thought he did a good job of playing defense. He was active, he had his hands up, he helped out a good chunk of the time. I was pleased with him. He’s getting better and I think he’s going to be good, but it’s going to be a process.”