Ryan Kelly #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket past Gerald Wallace #45 of the Boston Celtics in the second half during the game at TD Garden on January 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
TORONTO — Ryan Kelly is far from big time.
The Lakers rookie forward received a painful reminder of that when the team bus didn’t wait for him following the Lakers’ 107-104 victory Friday over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Even after posting a career-high 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting in 34 minutes, Kelly needed to hail a cab to go back to the team hotel.
The Lakers are noticing his progress, though. So much that Coach Mike D’Antoni said he will start Kelly over Jordan Hill at power forward when the Lakers (15-25) play the Toronto Raptors (20-18) on Sunday at Air Canada Centre.
“He’ll have to get used to playing every night and more minutes,” said D’Antoni, who traditionally prefers so-called stretch forward over bulkier big men. “The biggest thing is to keep him on the floor and out of foul trouble. He seems to have a tendency to do that. But he’s going to give us toughness, smarts, move the ball and hopefully he makes open shots.”
In a rehab that has taken longer than expected surrounding his surgically repaired right foot, Lakers second round draft pick Ryan Kelly made a few incremental improvements.
He said he has advanced toward running at 90 percent of his body weight on a treadmill, and plans to increase two percentage points of his body weight in subsequent days. Should that pan out, Kelly would run at his full body weight by Friday. Although he’s far from participating in full practices, Kelly also said he’s been cleared to take stationary mid-range jumpers.
The Lakers signed Kelly to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, meaning he would have to compete for a roster spot during training camp that holds 19 players. The 6’11″ Kelly from Duke could help the Lakers. His floor spacing and mid-range jumper helped him average 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots his senior season at Duke while shooting 42% from three-point range.
But he’s not expected to participate much in training camp, including appearing in any of the eight preseason games through Oct. 25. He had surgery in April to repair a screw that was initially inserted in his right foot in March 2012 to treat a broken bone. Because of that, Kelly didn’t have any pre-draft workouts and didn’t play on the Lakers’ summer league team.
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Though he hasn’t fully healed his surgically repaired right foot, the Lakers officially signed second-round draft pick Ryan Kelly Friday in what will at least give him a chance to compete for a roster spot should he become healthy.
Kelly has started running at 75 percent of his body weight on a treadmill, and Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti envisions him running at his full body weight in a “few weeks.” That means it’s safe to pencil Kelly out at least for the beginning of the Lakers’ training camp, which begins Sept 28 and runs through Oct. 25 with eight exhibition games.
With a surgically repaired right foot still healing, there’s not much second-round draft pick Ryan Kelly could do with the Lakers.
He couldn’t participate in any pre-draft workouts and fell to the 48th overall pick perhaps because of that reality. The former Duke product didn’t play on the Lakers’ summer league team. Only nine days before Lakers’ training camp begins, Kelly spent part of Thursday running at 75 percent of his body weight on a treadmill. Although he described Kelly as “completely asymptomatic,” Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti said that the training staff has taken a conservative approach toward Kelly’s rehab, making it unclear when he will return to the court.