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Lakers News: L.A. To Release Matt Ryan

The feel-good fringe personnel story of the Lakers’ 2022-23 season was the team’s late addition of Matt Ryan (no, not that one) to its standard 15-man roster after the 6’7″ small forward impressed the L.A. front office with a sharpshooting preseason run. Ryan had signed a “prove it” Exhibit 9 training camp deal with Los Angeles, and had remained on the team, into the regular season, on a non-guaranteed contract.

Prior to this season, Ryan had served as a delivery driver after going undrafted out of college in 2020, before eventually appearing in all of one game for the Boston Celtics during the 2021-22 season. He seemed to have secured an actual rotation spot under Darvin Ham at the start of the year. Though he remained a knockdown shooter, with one outstanding buzzer-beating moment to his credit, Ryan was a liability on the other end of the floor, and eventually slid out of the team’s lineups as other swingmen with better defensive chops got healthy.

Sources informed the well-connected Shams Charania of The Athletic late last night that the Lakers will sadly be cutting Ryan. Ryan himself later confirmed the news, per Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register.

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That means his final game for L.A. will the team’s 128-109 blowout of the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, during which Ryan suited up for a mere 1:55 of mop-up minutes.

Charania notes that, with Ryan off L.A.’s books before his contract could become guaranteed, the team now has an available spot on its standard roster, which could theoretically help the club should it want to make, say, a two-for-one trade down the road. Players signed to summer free agency deals start becoming trade-eligible on December 15th, so the move makes sense from that perspective.

Through 12 Lakers games, Ryan averaged 3.9 points while nailing 37.1% of his 2.9 three-point attempts in just 10.8 minutes a night. He didn’t do much from within the arc, as evinced by the fact that his cumulative field goal percentage of 30.6% is actually significantly worse than his long-range conversion rate!

Where does Ryan go from here?

I’m skeptical he will make another standard roster, but given his long range acumen, it certainly seems possible he could find a home with another NBA squad this season on a two-way deal or perhaps as an affiliate player for a G League franchise.

However, as Bobby Marks of ESPN and Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter links) note, Ryan’s full-season salary wouldn’t have become guaranteed for another six weeks, so the Lakers could’ve waived him anytime before January 7 if they needed his roster spot to accommodate a trade.

Marks points out (via Twitter) that the Lakers, given their tax position, will save $61K per day without Ryan on the roster. Pincus, meanwhile, suggests that the decision to release the 25-year-old now may be partly logistical, since the team is about to embark upon a six-game road trip and likely determined it didn’t make sense to bring Ryan on that trip if he was already on the chopping block.

Assuming Ryan is officially cut on Thursday, he’ll have earned $442,439 for the 45 days he spent on the Lakers’ roster and the two he’ll spend on waivers.

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