The significance pales considerably to the uncertainty the Lakers face in retaining Dwight Howard.
But at least there’s clarity on one thing.
Beginning now through June 30, the Lakers have the option to extend qualifying offers to four potential restricted free agents, including Darius Morris, Robert Sacre, Andrew Goudelock and Devin Ebanks. Should any of them receive qualifying offers, the Lakers would then have the rights to match any offer they receive from another team once free agency begins on July 1. Does Kupchak have a sense of what will happen?
“I do,” he said.
Can he share?
Fair enough. Below is a rundown of those four potential restricted free agents.
Player: Darius Morris
How he performed: Averaged 4 points on 38.8 percent shooting in 14.2 minutes through 48 regular-season games; averaged 10.5 points on 45.7 percent shooting in 26.3 minutes through four playoff games
Skinny: Morris may not have cracked D’Antoni’s final rotation. But he made major leaps from his rookie season that prompted more playing time. Morris showed he’s capable of defending bigger guards. He found a better balance to temper his speed so that it doesn’t cause him to make mistakes on the floor. More importantly, Morris hasn’t dialed back his positive attitude and work ethic.
His future: Pencil Morris back on the Lakers granting his $1.2 million qualifying offer. Morris said he prefers staying with the Lakers because of his hometown roots, his strong support system among teammates and tangible evidence that he has grown within the organization.
The Lakers also like how devoted he remains to staying in the gym. It’s uncertain whether Morris could receive much interest elsewhere considering his lack of playing time. But extending a qualifying offer to Morris would allow the Lakers to match any offer, and would only cost $200,000 more than signing him to the league minimum around $1 million.
Player: Andrew Goudelock
How he performed: Averaged 12 points on 44.4 percent shooting in 26.7 minutes through three playoff games.
The Skinny: The only consolation to Kobe Bryant’s season-ending torn left Achilles’ tendon? It may have thrust Goudelock into an NBA career. The Lakers’ selected him with the 46th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and then later cut him in the 2012 training camp. But with Bryant out of the lineup, the Lakers recalled him from the Development League after remaining impressed with his outside shooting.
Goudelock delivered, posting a career-high 20 points on 8 of 17 shooting and three steals in 41 minutes in the Lakers’ Game 3 first-round loss to San Antonio. The Lakers may have still fallen in a four-game sweep, but Goudelock proved he can handle the playoff pressure.
His future: Goudelock could stay with the Lakers. But it’s likely he won’t receive his $1.1 million qualifying offer namely because the Lakers would want to see how free agency turns out in July.
Player: Robert Sacre
How he performed: Averaged 1.3 points on 37.5 percent shooting and 1.1 rebounds in 6.3 minutes through 32 regular-season games.
The Skinny: The Lakers universally loved his enthusiasm, illustrated by his penchant to rise off the bench after big plays and wildly dance and cheer. It’s hard to completely evaluate Sacre’s season since he rarely played. But in his three starts where he averaged 6.7 points and 3 rebounds, Sacre showed plenty of energy and hustle.
His future: Expect Sacre to come back. His qualifying offer is worth only $988,000. Though he hasn’t fully developed, his positive attitude and work ethic could at least help him blossom into a backup capable of giving rest to the team’s frontcourt.
Player: Devin Ebanks
How he performed: Averaged 3.4 points on 32.9 percent shooting and 2.2 rebounds through 10.4 minutes in 19 regular-season games.
The Skinny: In his first two seasons with the Lakers, he cemented himself with a reputation as an unassuming hard worker that could become a solid role player. That went to waste his third season. First he was arrested on suspicion of DUI in early November the night before the Lakers fired Mike Brown. Ebanks immediately fell out of the rotation. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni gave him a chance in mid-December. But Ebanks shot only 9 of 25 during a three-game stretch and appeared noticeably out of shape, earning himself a permanent spot on the rotation. Meanwhile, he hardly appeared engaged in practice and pre-game warmups.
His future: Ebanks can kiss his $1.3 million qualifying offer and his time with the Lakers goodbye. The Lakers may have saw promise in his first two years with the Lakers. But Ebanks squandered that good will by completely checking out last year.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org