Hoopsworld: A busy couple of days for the Los Angeles Lakers, even if all the activity involved players at the end of the bench. After introducing Chinese point guard Sun Yue to the media, the new Laker came down with a fever and was diagnosed with mononucleosis.
He’ll be out indefinitely which could mean weeks or if he has a really bad case – months. Unfortunately he’s expected to miss training camp, a valuable learning period for a rookie.
Additionally, the Lakers re-signed center DJ Mbenga. He’ll make $880,658 this season, fully guaranteed. He’s also under contract for next season although his $959,111 is either partially or non-guaranteed.
At a little over $880, Mbenga is getting more than the league minimum which means the Lakers lose out on a league payment that goes to teams for players signed with the veteran’s minimum (a sliding scale based on the number of years). The team used their Non-Bird Exception to retain Mbenga leaving the Lakers with their unused Mid-Level and Bi-Annual Exceptions.
With both Sun and Mbenga locked in for the year – and with forward Josh Powell guaranteed $200,000 of his deal – the Lakers have 14 players who are all but set in stone for opening night.
That leaves the remaining five Lakers fighting for one spot – without guarantee that the team will even carry 15 players into the season. Guards Coby Karl, Brandon Heath, Dwayne Mitchell and Joe Crawford – along with forward CJ Giles – will need to beat each other out to make the team..
General Manager Mitch Kupchak told Lakers.com that Karl may have the advantage after playing a year under the system. He also noted that Mitchell was more of a forward than guard.
That could work against Mitchell since the Lakers are overstocked at the small forward position.
Media Day is on Monday…