Wesley Johnson and the Lakers have apparently made a deal for the swingman for one year on a minimum salary. With the latest acquisition, it appears Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has a knack for finding quality players at a minimum cost.
Johnson was drafted fourth in 2010 by the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, he has yet to live up to the same potential he had coming from Syracuse.
Johnson, now 26, has shown improvement while with the Phoenix Suns after a trade last year from the Wolves. And Kupchak hopes to capitalize on that. If the Lakers can stay free from injury, veterans like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash can help develop a younger or less experienced team.
While the rotation will likely change once the Lakers reach training camp in October, The Los Angeles Times suggested that Wesley Johnson will likely be the team’s backup for Nick Young at small forward.
The Lakers have struggled with contracts, as they are already over the luxury tax, forcing Kupchak to amnesty Metta World Peace last week. The Lakers also already used their taxpayer mid-level exception of $3.2 million on center Chris Kaman.
With that in mind, all Kupchak can offer free agents is the current veteran’s minimum. The Lakers added several players with a one-year contract in the past week, namely Nick Young and Jordan Farmar. However, Farmar’s contract will not be finalized with the Lakers until a buyout can be resolved with Turkish club Anadolu Efes.
As long as the Farmar deal goes through the Lakers will count 11 players under contract, including Wesley Johnson. Rookie forward Ryan Kelly, taken 48th in June’s NBA draft, is also expected to sign. That leaves one spot open for the Lakers to hit the team minimum of 13.
NBA teams are allowed 15 players on the roster, though they can bring up to 20 players to training camp this fall. It is not yet clear who else the Lakers have an eye on after their most recent acquisition of Wesley Johnson.