Over the weekend, the Lakers waived Andrew Goudelock from the team to bring their roster size to the NBA maximum of 15. It was unclear at the time whether that meant both Robert Sacre and Darius Johnson-Odom had made the opening night roster, but now it seems they have.
Here’s what general manager Mitch Kupchak said to Lakers.com earlier today:
In conjunction with our coach (Mike Brown) and (Executive VP of Player Personnel) Jim Buss, we hashed it out. There is a strategic approach to what you do involving (positions and salary), and amongst the three of us this is where we ended up. I wouldn’t think Robert Sacre (being on the roster) is a surprise to anybody; he certainly showed that he deserved an extended look.
What about the cost of holding onto 15 players? The Lakers already have an extremely high payroll. Kupchak explained that DJO’s contract wasn’t really an issue:
As a later second round draft pick like Johnson-Odom, that’s the lowest number that you can be paid of anybody in the NBA. When you look at our payroll, which is approaching $100 million, as a percentage of payroll it’s really not that much.
Good news for the two young players. Kupchak also said that one of the rookies – or maybe both – would likely see stints in the D-League, which would give the Lakers more time to evaluate them and see what they can do on the floor.
They’re on the team for now, but they’re not safe by any means. As Kupchak said, “these contracts do have some flexibility to them in the fact that they are not guaranteed,” meaning that they could be cut from the team at anytime until January 10 when contracts become fully guaranteed.
It’s a smart move to keep both rookies for now: if they have to cut one of them at any point – maybe to make room for a trade or to sign a free agent – they can do so. In the meantime, they can continue to watch them in practice and in the D-League while keeping track of their progress.