Lakers coach Byron Scott had what he called a “state of the union meeting” recently with general manager Mitch Kupchak, but declined to go into detail on what came out of those discussions.
“We just had a meeting about the team in general,” Scott said. “We talked about doing that every 15-20 games.”
The Lakers (3-11) have plenty to talk about entering their game tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies (12-2) at Staples Center. They are off to their worst start in franchise history. They already have season-ending injuries to veteran guard Steve Nash (back), rookie forward Julius Randle (right leg) and veteran swingman Xavier Henry (left Achilles). Lakers forward Ryan Kelly also will not return for at least five more weeks because of a torn hamstring.
Meanwhile, the Lakers remain allowed last of 30 NBA teams in total points allowed (111.6), 29th in defensive field goal percentage (48.7) and 29th in fast-break points allowed (16.1). Those numbers mostly fare worse than last season’s output, when the Lakers finished 29th in points allowed (109.2), 24th in defensive field goal percentage (46.8) and 30th in fast-break points allowed (16.7). Though Kobe Bryant leads the league with 26.7 points per game, he has shot a career-low 38.1 percent in an offense that has lacked consistency elsewhere.
It currently remains unclear to what degree Scott and Kupchak addressed those topics. Kupchak also was seen talking with Bryant at the end of the Lakers’ morning shootaround on Wednesday. But there is one other subject on the horizon.
How do the Lakers fill an injury-depleted roster that currently features only 11 active players?
“It’s enough depth to get us through games,” Scott said. “But our last couple of days our biggest problem has been having 10 guys that we can practice so we can get some work done that we need to do on both ends of the court. From that aspect, it might be a little bit more feasible for us to add a guy. Mitch and I will talk about it.”
The NBA has granted disabled player exceptions for Nash (worth $4.85 million) and Randle ($1.5 million), which would allow the Lakers to use either to acquire a player through free agency, wire claim or trade. The Lakers could also apply for the disabled player exception for Henry, though it will only be worth around $550,000. None of the exceptions can be combined.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are eligible to apply for the NBA’s hardship exception once Henry misses three more games. That tool grants teams the right to have 16 players on a roster when they field more than four players out with injuries. The Lakers could use that to add a player, though they would have to waive a player once Kelly returns to ensure a league-maximum 15-man roster. If the Lakers sign someone before the hardship exception kicks in, they would have to waive a player. Only guards Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington have non-guaranteed contracts.
“You just try to find a guy who can best fit that situation and fill the biggest needs you might have,” Scott said. “That’s something Mitch and I will sit down and talk about with where do we need help the most. When you get a guy this late, whether it’s a 10-day contract or the rest of the season, you don’t look at this guy and say he’ll play a lot of minutes. First, he has to get acclimated to what we’re doing on both ends of the floor. Those minutes are something you play by ear. If he stays another 10 days, its’ the same thing. It’s more of an insurance than anything else.”
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