The Los Angeles Lakers are thin at the small forward position, and have not decided to spend the necessary cap space to address the issue. Of course the team went through with its hope and dream of at least swaying LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
The pursuit of both players happened at the height of NBA Free Agency, and since that time, the market is down to the last tier of players. It’s almost inevitable that Los Angeles will look to extend a training camp invite to a player looking to see major minutes, and possibly cash in on the team’s big cap room next season. The Lakers may be able to offer as much as $30 million in space with the NBA signing a new television deal and increasing salary cap.
With training camp starting in two weeks, the Lakers can add two more players totaling to the maximum of 15 allowed for the season (20 for camp). Alonzo Gee has been pegged as a possible addition to the Lakers roster. According to Fox Sports Sam Amico, Byron Scott may have interest in reuniting with Gee, as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Scott coached Gee for three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2010-2013. During the 2011-12 season, Gee averaged a career-high of 10.6 points per game and 5.1 rebounds. Gee was recently traded to the Sacramento Kings, but all signs point to Gee being released by the team.
With familiarity in his game by Scott, the intrigue may be mutual as Gee could compete for starting minutes at small forward. At 27 years of age, and standing at 6’6, Gee is the ideal wingman that produces when given minutes. His two year stretch of averaging double-digits (10.4 points from 2012-13) in Cleveland included playing 30 minutes per game. The 2013-14 seasons included an appearance in only 65 games in just 15.7 minutes.
The outlook for Gee joining training camp with the Lakers and making the team looks good. Only Wesley Johnson is the team’s natural small forward, while they have been considering using Xavier Henry and Nick Young at the spot. Even Kobe Bryant may see some time at the position. Both Bryant and Young are better-suited to play at the shooting guard spot, providing the Lakers offensive firepower. Xavier Henry also plays more in the backcourt, and the team may limit him as he recovers from knee surgery this summer. Gee will have a great chance being that third guard in the case of injury, while playing comfortably alongside Kobe Bryant, if needed.
Gee is a physical wing that shows good strength and athleticism. He is a capable rebounder and defender as well. Gee shows plenty of aggression by getting to the rim, something that could pay dividends for the Lakers. The team will look to get in the paint and not rely on the three-point shot as much as last season.
With small forwards like Kawhi Leonard, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James bringing a similar physicality to the spot, Los Angeles needs a like-minded player. Gee is not the caliber of player as those mentioned, but he can provide value in competing with each player nightly. Opportunity has proven to be the biggest factor in getting the best out of Alonzo Gee. He still has questions about his consistency and shooting, but Los Angeles will look to utilize his strengths while gradually improving those facets of his game. The situation is one that LakerNation will keep an eye on.