One player who has been gunning for a Los Angeles Lakers roster spot in recent weeks is James Ennis. He’s been linked to the team recently and was caught liking tweets calling on him to sign. While Michael Scotto of HoopsHype recently reported that the Lakers are interested in him, it’s still possible that the interest isn’t that serious.
Training camp is closing in for NBA teams and Los Angeles has two guaranteed roster spots open. There’ll likely be keeping one of those spots open during the season, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. That leaves one spot open. Ennis appears to be a strong candidate but Jovan Buha of The Athletic would prefer the Lakers bring back a player who was on last year’s squad:
Among the available options, I’d still prefer Wesley Matthews, who’s already familiar with the Lakers’ system and was a productive role player down the stretch last season. Matthews is due for regression to the mean as a shooter after a career-worst 3-point shooting season.
Ennis is bigger than Matthews and is coming off a season in which he shot 43.3 percent on 2.5 3-point attempts per game. However, the season prior, he shot 32.5 percent on 3s in Philadelphia and Orlando, meaning we’ve seen the two extremes of his shooting, and he’s likely somewhere in the middle (36 to 37 percent).
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Ennis or Matthews?
At this point, neither Matthews nor Ennis would likely be consistent rotational players if either one of them were signed. As Buha pointed out, Ennis was the better shooter last season. However, Matthews is a career 37.9% 3-point shooter despite the down season. That’s better than Ennis’ 36.0% 3-point shooting.
A big advantage that Matthews has is that he’s a much better defender. Even though he was an offensive liability last season, he can still make stops on defense. The Lakers sacrificed a lot of defense this offseason with their litany of roster moves. Bring back Matthews would go a long way in bringing some defense back. Plus, if he can get back to being a strong shooter, he’s exactly what the Lakers could use.
Lakers Could Tryout a Few Players in Training Camp
With training camp happening soon, it’s looking like the Lakers may take a wait-and-see approach. They are without a doubt title contenders so they’ll be appealing for any veterans still waiting in free agency. Instead of just signing players to fill out the roster, Los Angeles could invite players to training camp to see who is the best fit.
Outside of Ennis and Matthews, Darren Collison and Isaiah Thomas have been linked to the Lakers this offseason. According to Haynes, they’ve already worked out with the team. Considering they remain unsigned, it’s very possible they get an invite to training camp. Los Angeles is in a position where they have all the leverage in any possible roster move. That could lead players to hold off on signing with other teams just for the chance to play with the Lakers.