Rookie Ryan Kelly makes it to opening night
No one with the Lakers specifically told rookie forward Ryan Kelly that he’d made the team.
“I guess they just didn’t cut me,” said Kelly on Sunday. “I’m still here today.”
Drafted with the 48th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Kelly signed a non-guaranteed training camp contract with the Lakers.
After April surgery, Kelly spent most of the summer and half of training camp rehabbing his foot. Now Kelly is expected to suit up on the active roster Tuesday for opening night against the Clippers.
He may not get any minutes but it’s a big step forward for the Duke Blue Devil.
“I have a long way to go to grow, but I think I can play a long time in this league,” said Kelly
Kelly isn’t demonstrative or cocky, but he’s confident in what he can do as a basketball player.
“I know who I am. I know what kind of person I am, what kind of player I am. Nobody is going tell me otherwise,” said Kelly. I’m confident that I’ll earn my keep and I’ll earn a spot . . . [and] earn playing time.”
Kelly’s $490,180 minimum contract isn’t fully guaranteed until Jan. 10.
“I’m still an unguaranteed guy, I’ve got to earn it every day,” Kelly said.
Through three preseason games, Kelly averaged five points a game while shooting just 33.3% from field. Naturally, he’s a bit rusty after sitting out about six months to get healthy.
“The bottom line is there aren’t that many people who are 6 foot 11 who can shoot the ball,” said Kelly. “That’s something that clearly Coach [Mike] D’Antoni appreciates.”
Once he gets past the emotions of opening night as a Laker, Kelly needs to continue to work on his conditioning -- to show that his shooting touch can be a weapon in games for the Lakers.
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