Last week, the Lakers cut rookie forward Elias Harris, reducing the team’s roster to 14 players.
Undrafted out of Gonzaga, Harris was on a rookie minimum salary of $490,180, of which $100,000 was guaranteed. In two appearances, for a total of just under six minutes, Harris wasn’t able to notch a single point.
The Lakes made sure to cut him before he earned more than this guarantee, reducing the team’s total payroll from $79,186,502 to $78,796,322.
Though the salary difference was “just” $390,180, the Lakers saved an additional $682,815 in luxury-tax penalties. Waiving Harris saved the Lakers a total of almost $1.1 million.
The team still has three players (Shawne Williams, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly) on non-guaranteed contracts. Williams and Henry are staples of Coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation.
Kelly has bounced back and forth from the D-League, playing three games for the D-Fenders.
Any players still on the Lakers’ roster on Jan. 10 will have their salaries locked in. Kelly, who the Lakers took with the 48th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, may be on the bubble.
The Lakers can try to save another million, but choosing instead to develop the six-foot-11 shooter may be the better call.
Though Kelly hasn’t gotten much of a chance to play for the Lakers this season, he’s averaged 25 points and eight rebounds a game for the D-Fenders.
Henry and Williams are all but locks to get past the early January cut-down date.
The Lakers project to pay $11.1 million in luxury taxes for their 14-man roster this season.