A day after not offering Kent Bazemore a contract, the Lakers decided to do the opposite with Ryan Kelly, extending a qualifying offer and making Kelly a restricted free agent.
Kelly was a bit of a surprise last year. After surgery during the off-season pushed his progress back, Kelly blossomed later into the season and finished with an 8.0 points per game average as well as 3.7 rebounds and 33.8% from three-point land shooting, all in 59 games of action.
The Duke alumni really turned the corner in Boston in mid-January when, during the Lakers Grammy trip, Kelly scored a then-career high 20 points and helped propel the Lakers to a victory over their fierce rivals. In fact, for an 11-game stretch that lasted just shy of a month, Kelly averaged 13.4 points per game and shot 39.5% from deep. The streak also included his new career high of 26 points and eight total double digits games.
Now, Kelly has a one million dollar qualifying offer on the table, which means if no team offers Kelly a contract, he’ll sign that deal and play for the Lakers next season. If a team does give Kelly an offer, the Lakers have the right to match the contract or allow the player to walk.
While it’s unclear just how much Kelly will draw, a young player with his skill set certainly would turn some heads. It’s very likely he will remain a Laker for the foreseeable future, barring an unexpectedly large contract offer.