Devin Ebanks Will Return To The Lakers Next Season

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 01: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his basket and foul with Devin Ebanks #3 on way to a 104-100 win over the Denver Nuggets during Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

One piece of the Lakers' bench snapped into place today. Restricted free agent Devin Ebanks has decided to accept the team's qualifying offer, which means he'll return to the Lakers on a one-year deal for $1.4 million. David Bauman, Devin's agent, had been out testing the market, and now and then rumors have surfaced the past couple weeks about other teams that might have interest, but none of them signed Ebanks to an actual offer sheet. So Devin will play out his QO contract and become an unrestricted free agent a year from now. Bauman told the L.A. Times:

This isn't a financial decision as [much as] a career decision.... Devin knows he has a big year ahead of him. I'm happy they have faith in him by giving him a qualifying offer. He's going to go show he can help the team and get some minutes this season.

In his first two seasons with the team, Ebanks got sporadic minutes, popping into the lineup as an occasional injury replacement. His defense has been fine, his rebounding OK, but he needs to improve his shooting and scoring efficiency. His True Shooting mark of 48% over his first two years wasn't good enough to keep him on the court. The hope is that continued work and improvement on his part and his suitability to a faster-paced offense under Steve Nash will turn him into a rotation regular. Ebanks will be 23 when next season starts.

Barring a trade that sends Metta World Peace out of town, it seems the Lakers are set at small forward. MWP will be the starter, Ebanks the primary reserve and Christian Eyenga third-string. There's been no indication the Lakers intend to bring back free agent Matt Barnes.

Here's how the depth chart looks at the moment.

Starter

2nd String

3rd String

PG

Steve Nash

Steve Blake

Darius Morris

SG

Kobe Bryant

A. Goudelock (a)

D. Johnson-Odom (b)

SF

Metta World Peace

Devin Ebanks

Christian Eyenga

PF

Pau Gasol

Josh McRoberts

C

Andrew Bynum

Robert Sacre (b)

(a) - Unguaranteed for next season.
(b) - Drafted but not yet signed.

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