Kane to La-La Land?

DeAndre Kane went undrafted Thursday night, but there's plenty of reasons to feel rosy about where he'll begin his career

DeAndre Kane wasn't selected in Thursday's NBA Draft — most likely the result of concerns of his age (25) — but by Friday morning had smartly accepted an invitation with the Los Angeles Lakers in their summer league.

The Lakers fit the 6-foot-4 Kane, a point guard who can also play off the ball, for a couple reasons:

  • Kobe Bryant remains the top dog, but there's a new era rising in Los Angeles. A new coach will be taking over shortly (the reported front-runner is Byron Scott). Bryant is on the books for upwards of $25 million through the 2015-16 season, but in a loaded West it's tough to see the Lakers as serious contenders by then. They won't tank under Bryant, but the Lakers are likely in "collect-assets" phase until they can reel in a big fish or two. If the expectations are reasonable and the franchise isn't trying to swing for the fences, Kane might pass as a starting or backup point guard.
  • There's plenty of room. The Lakers, as of today, have four guaranteed salaries for the 2014-15 season (Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall). Nash and Marshall are point guards but it remains to be seen if Nash, at over $9.7 million this next year, will remain in Los Angeles. Offensive-minded wingman Nick Young has a player option for the 2014-15 season, but he might be able to get more money elsewhere. Los Angeles drafted Kentucky power forward Julius Randle No. 7 overall last night. He'll be a cornerstone for years to come. If there's a roster concern for Kane, it's that the Lakers did acquire the rights to Missouri combo guard Jordan Clarkson, who was selected in Thursday's second round. Second-round contracts aren't guaranteed, though.
  • The chief concern regarding Kane leading up to the draft no longer matters. At this point, he'll be looking to secure any sort of contract and his age shouldn't be a factor — even if he managed to sign a four-year contract (unlikely), it'd take him to age 29, which isn't far off from what many consider to be a player's peak (27). Teams were hesitant to spend a first-round pick on Kane. It's a four-year deal; with that investment, most franchises would like to extend the contracts of their first-round picks, if the player is successful. You're then envisioning a scenario in which you can be committed (officially and unofficially) to Kane until his 33rd birthday and, with a surplus of youth and international stash-ability in the latter half of the first round, that doesn't really sound all that great.

    Once the first 45 or so picks were counted off Thursday, it became mildly ridiculous the stat sheet-stuffing Kane was still on the board, but compare where he could have gone (47th to Philly? 59th to the Nets?) to where he'll start (a place with unbelievable roster freedom) and it feels like the night shook out pretty well for the former Cyclones star.


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