Lakers extend qualifying offers to Ebanks and Morris

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
3:57
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Lakers didn't exactly make the splash they'd hoped for in Thursday's NBA draft -- not unless you consider trading for the 55th pick splashy, at least -- but Friday afternoon took a pair of small steps toward filling out next season's roster.

The Lakers extended both Devin Ebanks and Darius Morris qualifying offers, making both restricted free agents and significantly improving the chances they'll return to the team. The Lakers now have the right to match any offer sheet signed by either player with another team.

For Ebanks, the qualifying offer was for just over a million dollars, for Morris a little less.

Neither player is likely to attract big money on the open market, mostly because even if you put all their on-floor experience together, Ebanks and Morris haven't played enough to draw that sort of interest. Meanwhile the Lakers, short on young, inexpensive talent, have incentive to get both re-signed. Particularly Ebanks. With Matt Barnes almost certainly on his way out, the future of Metta World Peace in doubt (though self-generated reports he was traded for a bucket of KFC proved false, he's still an amnesty candidate), and limited means for adding players, the Lakers can't afford to let a small forward get away. Whether intentionally or by default, there's a very good chance Ebanks will be in line for a much larger role.

Morris is long and young, and has genuine point guard skills and makeup. While he didn't light the world on fire in his limited playing time last season -- did you expect he would?-- at 21 years old there is real potential for Morris to grow into a solid NBA player. Certainly the Lakers don't have easy access to many other players like him.

I'd be surprised if both weren't wearing purple and gold next season, or even if getting the contracts ironed out proved particularly tough.

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