Deadline hits Tuesday for Lakers to decide on non-guaranteed players

Lakers forward Ryan Kelly tries to get past Jazz guard Alec Burks on a driver to the basket in the first half.
Lakers forward Ryan Kelly tries to get past Jazz guard Alec Burks on a driver to the basket in the first half.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

It’s decision day for the Lakers.

Four players on the roster are on non-guaranteed contracts (Kendall Marshall Ryan Kelly, Xavier Henry and Shawne Williams).

If any of the four is still on the team past the 2:00 p.m. deadline, their contracts will lock in for the remainder of the season.

Technically the deadline is Jan. 10, but a player cut must clear NBA’s waiver process first, which takes 48 hours.


The Lakers have the league-maximum of 15 players under contract.

Multiple injuries have opened a job, and starting spot, for Marshall who has 32 assists in his first two starts with the Lakers.

Marshall is on a two-year deal and while the team probably didn’t expect to keep him long when they signed him, he may be indispensable.

Rookie Kelly has become a regular in Coach Mike D'Antoni’s rotation, even filling in at small forward for the first time since the 6-foot-11 Kelly was in middle school.

“All I can say is that every single day, I’m doing my best to earn my spot,” said Kelly after practice on Monday. “I make it past this date, then I’m on a one-year deal.”

Over the past six games, Kelly is averaging 5.2 points in 16.5 minutes while shooting both 50% from the field and from behind the arc.

“I’m trying to earn my spot and let everybody know that I can play in this league,” said Kelly.

Henry has been a pleasant surprise for the Lakers this season, averaging 10.1 points a game, even filling in at point guard when Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow), Kobe Bryant (knee) and Jordan Farmar (hamstring) went down with injury -- before Henry went down with his own knee issue.

Because Henry is hurt, if the Lakers were to cut him, his salary would automatically guarantee for the remainder of the season -- so by a technicality, he’s safe.

Veteran forward Williams is a favorite of D'Antoni, starting 11 games but he’s shot just 37.7% from the field and 32.7% from the field.

The Lakers may not cut anyone on Tuesday but if they do, Williams would the most likely of the four to be let go.


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