A looming deadline will soon determine Marcelo Huertas’ NBA future. But the Lakers’ reserve guard downplayed any uncertainty on whether the Lakers will decide by Friday whether to retain Huertas and make his $525,093 contract fully guaranteed.
“I have no worries about it. They’re happy with me and they like me as a player and to tutor the young guys,” Huertas said. “That’s something I can’t control. I just have to worry about playing ball. That’s one thing that never goes through my head. That’s something that doesn’t really concern me.”
After playing the past 11 years in Spain, the 32-year-old Brazilian native is playing his rookie season of the NBA where he has averaged only 3.1 points on 43.4 percent shooting and 2.8 assists in 12.6 minutes. Yet, Lakers coach Byron Scott maintained that he “likes Marcelo.” Scott argued Huertas’ lack of playing time has more to do with the Lakers’ loaded backcourt in D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams than any learning curve Huertas has experienced in the NBA.
“He hasn’t done anything for me not to feel comfortable when I do put him in,” Scott said of Huertas. “When I do put him in the game. I feel comfortable with him out there. I know he’s going to do the right thing, run the offense, be gritty, be that gnat out there and be a sparkplug for us.”
Huertas has struggled defending speedy NBA guards. Though Scott largely credited Huertas in the Lakers’ fourth-quarter comeback in their Christmas Day loss to the Clippers, he has also struggled with his shot. Yet, Huertas talked about his season in glowing terms.
“Whenever I’m out there, I feel great,” Huertas said. “I practice hard and I’m ready for the challenge. Whenever I’ve gotten a chance to play. I’ve done well for the team. I’m ready for whenever my opportunities to come.”
Scott said he and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak “talked briefly” on Saturday about the team’s upcoming decision on retaining Metta World Peace ($1.5 million), Tarik Black ($845,059) and Huertas, all of whom have contracts that will become guaranteed after next Sunday. But the Lakers will have to decide by Friday so all the players will have time to clear waivers.
“Some of it always comes down to who’s out there available that you think you can look at and improve your team,” Scott said. “Those are the scenarios in our hands right now.”