Lakers' roster could shrink in coming weeks

Lakers' roster could shrink in coming weeks
Shawne Williams (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

The Lakers are currently carrying the league-maximum 15 players on their roster, but that may not be the case for long.

Four players are signed to nonguaranteed contracts: Xavier Henry, Shawne Williams, Ryan Kelly and recent acquisition Kendall Marshall.


The Lakers have until Jan. 7 to decide which players they want to keep the rest of the season. The deadline is officially Jan. 10, but each player needs 48 hours to clear the NBA's waiver process.

Henry was signed over the summer for $916,099 and has proved to be one of the team's best off-season acquisitions.

Heading into the Lakers' Sunday game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the 6-foot-6 Henry averaged 10.4 points, even playing out of position at point guard with injuries to Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow), Kobe Bryant (knee) and, previously, Jordan Farmar (hamstring).

Fortune hasn't favored the Lakers at point guard this season. Henry left Sunday's game in the first quarter because of a strained right knee. He'll have an MRI exam Monday to determine the severity.

Williams (at $1.1 million) would also appear safe, starting 10 of 31 games at power forward for Coach Mike D'Antoni, including Sunday against the Sixers.

D'Antoni is fond of 6-11 rookie forward Kelly, who has recently become a regular part of the Lakers' rotation.

"I think Ryan is playing really well, in limited minutes," said D'Antoni before the game Sunday. "The biggest thing that he does, he really knows how to play — defensively and offensively he's always in the right spot."

Kelly is the team's cheapest player under contract at $490,180.

It's second-year point guard Marshall who needs to worry about job security.

The Lakers signed Marshall on Dec. 20 to a two-year, nonguaranteed $1.5-million contract — after every other point guard on the roster went down with injury.

Still, the Lakers' coach prefers to use Henry.

"[Marshall has] got to be better than the point guard we have out there and [Henry] right now is doing a pretty good job," D'Antoni said. "I don't know [Marshall]. I've seen him play maybe two minutes."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Perhaps the injury to Henry will give Marshall the opportunity he needs to prove himself.


In Sunday night's 111-104 loss to the 76ers, Marshall helped spark an early fourth-quarter rally, finishing with eight points, three assists and two rebounds — all season highs.

If Marshall lasts beyond the January deadline, his $547,570 for the current season will lock in.

With all 15 players, the Lakers' team salary for the season is $91.4 million, including $12 million in luxury tax penalties.

Twitter: @EricPincus

Pincus is a Times correspondent.