After losing Game 5 to the Denver Nuggets in dramatic fashion, the Los Angeles Lakers have been forced into a corner as they now must head back to the Mile High City in order to finish off George Karl’s scrappy squad at the Pepsi Center. With this loss, the Lakers are one game closer to the return of small forward Metta World Peace from his seven-game suspension.
Now that the return of World Peace is right around the corner, Lakers coach Mike Brown will be put in an interesting situation in terms of allocating minutes to Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks. During World Peace’s suspension, Ebanks has been the starter at small forward with Barnes coming off the bench.
Neither Ebanks nor Barnes has played particularly well in the NBA playoffs thus far. With that being said, the Lakers’ coaching staff can wait to implement World Peace back in the lineup. Unfortunately for Ebanks, the return of World Peace might be the end of extended minutes for the young forward. As a result, it may result in the end of his time on the floor in Los Angeles.
Come July 1, Ebanks is officially become a restricted free agent. With the restriction, the Lakers can match any offer given to Ebanks, but it is uncertain if the team intends to keep him with other free agents like Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill being top priorities.
Even though the future of the young small forward is very much up in the air, Ebanks maintains that he is focused on the playoffs rather than heading towards free agency via Mark Medina of the L.A. Times:
“I’m just focused on the playoffs” and declined to entertain his thought process heading into free agency.
“When I’m out there, I’m just thinking about playing hard and winning games,” said Ebanks. “I don’t worry too much about trying to showcase my talents for other teams. I just try to go out there and play my game.”
There’s no question that Ebanks has shown some signs of promise in the second half of the season and filling in for World Peace, but whether or not the team is convinced to re-sign him remains to be seen. There will definitely be a lot of decisions that the Lakers’ front office will have to make come July 1, which will make for an interesting off-season in Los Angeles.