Lakers Likely To Keep World Peace, Black, Huertas

The Lakers are likely to retain Metta World Peace, Tarik Black and Marcelo Huertas through Thursday, the final day the team can waive their non-guaranteed contracts before they become fully guaranteed, a source tells Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. The team has 12 other players on fully guaranteed deals, so locking in three more limits the club’s roster flexibility. The trio of non-guaranteed Lakers are on minimum-salary deals, though the cost of each to the team is different because of their varying levels of experience.

World Peace’s contract calls for a full-season salary of $1,499,187, since he’s a 15-year veteran, though the Lakers would be responsible for only $947,276 if they indeed keep him. Black, as a one-year vet, is scheduled to make $845,059 for the full season, while Huertas is drawing the rookie minimum of $525,093. They’ve already earned roughly 42% of their respective salaries by virtue of sticking on the roster as long as they have, and while the Lakers could end up paying no more than that percentage if they waive them, it appears they’ve decided against doing so.

The Lakers are fond of World Peace’s locker room mentorship, according to Bresnahan, who points out that his playing time in Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Warriors represented his first appearance after a string of 14 consecutive DNPs. Huertas, who’s seen somewhat more action even as he’s battled hamstring injuries, set a career high with nine points Tuesday, fellow Times scribe Eric Pincus notes (Twitter link).

The case of Black is slightly more complicated. He’s been on D-League assignment three times in the past month, and coach Byron Scott has turned more often to veteran Brandon Bass at his position.

“Brandon Bass is playing really well right now,” Scott said, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “If he starts to slump, then I’ll turn to Tarik.”

The Lakers like Black’s energy, strength and positivity, but they want to see him work on his mid-range and post-up skills and become more of a physical presence inside, Medina notes. Still, it appears he’s done enough to secure his full-season salary. He, like Huertas and World Peace, is on a contract that expires at season’s end.

Do you think the Lakers should keep all three of their non-guaranteed players, or would they be better served to open a roster spot or two? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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