Xavier Henry will be a free agent after this season.
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Torn ligament in his shooting wrist and all, Xavier Henry decided he was going to play through the pain and ignited the Lakers with 22 points off of the bench Tuesday night. Eight of those came in the history-making 51-point third quarter the team had in its 127-96 win over Phil Jackson’s Knicks.
"That ain’t going to stop him from shooting," Lakers guard Nick Young said of Henry’s wrist injury. "If his hands was cut off he’ll find a way to (shoot). That’s what he do. He look toward that rim and somehow he gets it up."
Henry was auditioning. He was auditioning for Mitch Kupchak. He was auditioning for Jim Buss. He was auditioning for the 29 other teams in the NBA.
Such is the life for the majority of the players on the Lakers roster whose deals essentially end after the team plays out the final 12 games of the regular season.
"I think everybody understands," Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said. "We talk about it a lot where they’re auditioning for 29 general managers, well, 30 actually because this team, obviously, you are (auditioning for) and than there’s 29 people watching you. You owe it to yourself to give your career the best jumpstart you can get it (and) get better, there’s no reason not to.
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"These are good guys that just have been thrown into a horrible situation but they’re battling."
Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre are the only players with guaranteed contracts for next season. Kendall Marshall has a team option for next season. Nick Young has a player option, meaning 10 other players are virtually left to fend for themselves and D’Antoni is not bashful about discussing this with them.
"You might as well (talk about it) because they got 35 friends and three agents and 95 people tell them everyday what’s happening," he said. "They’re not coming into it blind like ‘Oh, I thought I was going to be here forever.’ No, they know the deal. They know that this is a tough business, sometimes. We’re in a tough spot."
Leaving plenty for players like Henry to prove, hurt wrist or not.
"I know if I wouldn’t have gotten hurt I’d still be proven to myself that I belong in this league, I belong on a team, and I can contribute and change the game," Henry said. "Right now it’s proving to myself that these injuries aren’t going to hold me back. I’m strong enough to just get through it."