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Robert Sacre may have peaked but Lakers should keep him as an 'emergency' center

Did Robert Sacre give fans reasons to celebrate this season, or is he hanging on the edge of being let go?

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver may be best known as the birthplace of the now-Memphis Grizzlies, but the town has also produced the NBA's resident seven-foot Care Bear, Robert Sacre. The Gonzaga product burst onto the scene in 2012 when his bench celebrations became a viral hit during his rookie year, quickly ascending to the title of "Laker you would most like to hang out with." Sacre was as on top of the world as a 60th overall draft pick can be.

Life comes at you fast. Now in his third consecutive year on a disappointing team, Sacre's exuberant dancing on the bench was not enough to offset the fact that he wasn't very good while on the court. As players age, mistakes are no longer chalked up to youth and dismissed, instead simply serving as evidence a player just is not that special. Sacre has undoubtedly exceeded expectations as a last pick in the draft and looks set to be a solid fifth insurance big man for a while, but should it be with the Los Angeles Lakers?

Sacre's shooting and shot selection regressed in 2014-15 (something that became somewhat of a theme for players shifting from Mike D'Antoni to Byron Scott), while the rest of his game has stagnated. I wrote in my season preview that Sacre takes the kind of close range shots that are ideal from a 7-footer. While that had been true in the first two years of his career, it did not continue into the most recent Lakers campaign:

Sacre 13-14

Sacre 14-15

Whether from a coaching mandate to expand his game or just a simple desire to do so, Sacre moved away from the basket on offense, taking just 39.9 percent of his shots at the rim in 2014-15 after 59.7 percent came there in 2013-14. This decline was not indicative of Sacre taking less shots overall either, as according to Basketball Reference the finger gun enthusiast actually took .4 more shot attempts per-100 possessions during the '14-15 season (13.8) than he did in '13-14 (13.4).

Making matters worse was Sacre's field goal percentage at the rim falling from 54.7 percent to 45.1 percent. Robert is a decent defender because of his mobility, but not good enough to justify playing time while shooting less than 50 percent at the cup. This drop in efficiency at the rim is the largest factor in Sacre's precipitous decline in true shooting percentage, falling from 51.3 percent in 13-14 to 44.9 percent.

Other than improving his turnover percentage (from 11.4 to 9.5), there is basically nothing Sacre did significantly better this season than a year ago. After his third campaign, we know what Sacre is: A decently mobile 7 footer who tops out at average defensively and is at best not actively harmful on offense.

Is that worth keeping around? Sacre will be on a one-year non-guaranteed contract worth $981,348, and with Tarik Black being the only other center guaranteed to be on the Lakers roster at the start of next season, Sacre is probably worth keeping around at that price, but the Lakers have until June 30 to make that decision. Their decision could also be swayed depending on if they draft either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor. Robert's production may have stagnated and even regressed, but the team could certainly do worse for a "break glass in case of emergency" big man.

If Sacre is asked to play double-digit minutes consistently, then the Lakers are in trouble. However, if all he is asked to do is play hard in practice, commit a few hard fouls occassionally, and celebrate to fire up his teammates then fans can celebrate right along with him.