At this point, we all know that the Los Angeles Lakers brought in J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters for meetings and workouts on Monday morning. But according to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times, those two players aren’t necessarily the only ones that the Lakers are looking at for their final roster spot:
The team might bring in other players and is in no rush to fill the spot, according to people familiar with their plans.
On one hand, it’s a good thing that the Lakers aren’t limiting their scope to just two players, and that they’re going to take their time with whatever decision they come to. On the other hand, who else is there for them to look at?
Allen Crabbe was bought out by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, but he hasn’t been a productive player since the 2017-18 season, when he shot 37.8% from behind the arc on 7.1 3-point attempts per game with the Brooklyn Nets. In 37 appearances this season, Crabbe has posted a box plus-minus of -5.2. Additionally, he’s posted the third-worst net rating this season, according to FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR rating. The only two players that have been done less with their time on the floor this season are Detroit Pistons rookie Sekou Doumbouya and free agent guard Isaiah Thomas.
There’s a chance that Crabbe returns to form playing on a good team in his hometown of Los Angeles, but his recent production puts him on par with Waiters and Smith, even though he’s seven years younger than Smith is.
Then, there’s Jamal Crawford, a player known for his ability to score at will. However, the little that Crawford offers defensively doesn’t make up for the liability he is on the defensive end. Last season, the Phoenix Suns were 6.1 points better per 100 possessions with Crawford off the court, according to Cleaning the Glass. The season before that, the Minnesota Timberwolves were 10.1 points better per 100 possessions better with him off the court.
Yes, he scored 51 points in the last game he played, but even in that game he was a -5 in the box score because of how woeful he was on the defensive end. Crawford will go down as one of the best Sixth Men the league has ever seen, but it’s hard to imagine him contributing to a championship-contending team at this stage of his career.
The only other name that’s worth mentioning is Tyler Johnson, who was waived by the Phoenix Suns last month. Johnson has been a solid defensive guard since he came into the league in 2014, but his offense leaves a lot to be desired. This season, Johnson’s shot 38% from the field, including 28.9% from behind the arc. If the Lakers didn’t already have a similar player in Alex Caruso, he’d be a viable option, but they do, so he’s not.
Perhaps the Lakers take chance on someone in the G League with the luck that they’ve had finding diamonds in the rough in the past, but it’s more likely that they’ll sign Waiters or Smith, not only because they’re more proven, but because they have important connections to the team.
The Lakers have gone against the grain before, though, so we’ll just have to wait and see what they do.