Posted by on Jul 27, 2013 in Lakers Analysis, Lakers News, Opinion, San Antonio Spurs | 15 comments

p>I didn”t watch him play at Gonzaga, saw virtually no Summer League ball and in those moments I did wasn”t paying particularly close attention to any single player. Still, it”s easy to support the Lakers” decision to sign Elias Harris to fill the league-mandated 13th spot on the roster. (I”m already counting 2nd rounder Ryan Kelly, currently unsigned, as the 12th guy.) For what it”s worth — and it may not be much given the loose relationship between SPL ball and NBA performance — those reviewing Harris in Vegas say he . Given the role he”d almost certainly play with the Lakers, i.e. asked to do virtually anything but score, that”s a big deal. But the key numbers for Harris: 24 years old, 6″8″, 240 lbs. Meaning he”s is a big body in the frontcourt, and most importantly a fairly young, potentially developing talent and reason enough to like him as a concept, even if (like me) you don”t know much about him as a player.

Cheap youth and upside are things the Lakers don”t have nearly enough access to, given all the draft picks they”ve traded away over the last few years. Until they can replenish their stocks on the trade market, the franchise starts to rebuild with one hand tied behind its back. That reality puts a premium on finding talent that may have fallen through the cracks, guys who cost a million but eventually play like they”re worth three or four. The type of player San Antonio churns out regularly.

Is Harris that guy? I have no idea. The odds say likely not, but if they believe Harris has potential to crack an NBA rotation the Lakers did the smart thing in signing him. If they”re right, they”ll have a quality asset at a low cost.

Certainly Harris makes more sense than Lamar Odom, a popular candidate for a roster spot among more sentimental fans, but someone who on most levels is a poor fit for the Lakers of 2013-14. While last season”s run with the Clippers was certainly an improvement on his apocalyptic turn in Dallas, Odom still didn”t crack 40 percent from the floor and . But more importantly, he”ll be 34 in November, and has virtually no chance to provide the Lakers with what they need long term.

This before he went supernova as a tabloid/TMZ star over the last couple weeks, a distraction worth tolerating for a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, less so for the space Odom currently occupies, particularly on a team without realistic title hopes.

I don”t know if they will given the financial considerations involved, but I”d love to see them sign another “Harris” or two, making more small investments in the future that could pay big dividends (and save them some cash) down the road. At the very least, the move is another in a positive summer-long trend for the Lakers, who continue using their limited assets on younger players potentially capable of growing with the team.