Injured players such as Kobe Bryant a factor in Lakers’ roster moves
DALLAS — Shawne Williams was waived Monday, but the Lakers don’t plan on filling his roster spot any time soon.
Unless, of course, another guard is injured.
The Lakers were down to 14 players, one below the NBA maximum, after cutting Williams before his contract became guaranteed the rest of the season.
They want to maintain roster flexibility and will not add free-agent forward Hedo Turkoglu because they think his skills are declining. And, of greater importance, they have two healthy guards, Kendall Marshall and Jodie Meeks.
There’s a just-in-case wariness permeating the Lakers while Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry sit out with injuries.
There are still a few weeks before any of them return, with the possible exception of Henry.
Nash is targeting a Jan. 28 return against Indiana. He has played only six games this season because of nerve damage in his back but was seen working out individually at the Lakers’ shoot-around Tuesday.
Bryant is expected back shortly after Nash, his approximate six-week healing period for a fractured knee ending in late January or early February.
Then the Lakers might get Blake back after that. He has been sidelined since mid-December because of a torn elbow ligament. At about the time Blake returns, Farmar should be done recovering from a second torn hamstring.
Henry is the wild card in the group, his status unknown until early next week. He’ll be back relatively soon if he is determined to have only a bone bruise in his right knee. But if there was also cartilage damage, he would miss several weeks.
Williams was cut because he was brought on to stretch the floor at the forward spot but shot only 37.7%. The Lakers also like the potential of rookie forward Ryan Kelly.
"[Williams] did everything we asked of him and he did well,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It’s just with the injuries and to be able to keep flexibility and be able to look at different areas we may have to shore up, it’s something we felt like we had to do.”
Williams, 27, averaged 5.2 points and 4.5 rebounds and started 11 games. He would have made about $1 million this season.
The Lakers did not waive Marshall, Henry or Kelly on Tuesday, making their contracts guaranteed the rest of the season.
“The thing I was most happy about was I can move out of a hotel now,” said Marshall, signed by the Lakers from the Development League a little more than two weeks ago. He will make $547,570 this season and has a non-guaranteed $915,243 next season.
Henry, 22, was averaging 10.1 points and experiencing the best season of his career until he was injured a little more than a week ago. He will be a free agent in July.
Kelly has recently become a rotation player, averaging six points and 19.2 minutes over the last five games. If the Lakers like him, they can give him a qualifying offer of $1 million next season.
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