The preseason is over and the Lakers now have some hard decisions to make. They'll practice Saturday and must trim their roster from 17 to 15 players by Monday.
Here are five takeaways from Friday, which includes the Lakers' 98-94 loss to the Phoenix Suns, and also some nuggets gleaned from pregame interviews.
- One would not be wise to put too much stock in Friday night’s game when it comes to the three players who appear to be vying for the Lakers’ final roster spot — Yi Jianlian, Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson. Of them, Robinson probably had the biggest impact in this game with four points, five rebounds, a blocked shot and a turnover in seven minutes. Yi played 13 minutes, hit one shot — a three-pointer — and also had a blocked shot, three rebounds and a turnover. World Peace did not play. Walton emphasized, though, that the evaluation would be cumulative, all the way from the start of training camp.
- Second-round pick Ivica Zubac got a moment in the sun before the preseason ended. With starting center Timofey Mozgov out, Zubac got his first start. He called it a “dream.” “I’m living a great life,” he added, which was some nice perspective to have from the post-game locker room, which is often a jaded place. Zubac played 10 minutes and had a steal, a turnover, two rebounds and four points.
- The two players who led the way for the Lakers were forward Julius Randle and guard D'Angelo Russell. Randle scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Russell had 17 points. It wasn’t his best shooting night, he made 35.7% of his shots, but he did have six assists and the best plus/minus of the starters at zero. He also helped calm Zubac’s nerves a little bit before the game.
- World Peace wasn’t interested in discussing the possibilities for him in the next few days. He said there was only one possibility — to have a good time.
- The tinkering with the starting lineup isn’t finished yet, and likely won’t be by the start of the regular season. It does appear guard Jordan Clarkson will be in a sixth-man role. Walton has talked more than once about Clarkson’s presence with the second unit being a good way to boost that group. He also said that even if Clarkson doesn't start, he’ll be playing starter minutes.