While many NBA teams will be sweating bullets for the next few weeks, hoping like a contestant on The Bachelor that they will be lucky enough to win the favor one of the league's elite free agents, the Los Angeles Lakers will be watching a different group of players very carefully.
That's right ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year once again...NBA Summer League action!
Ok, so maybe it's not quite as exciting as LeBron James' press conference tomorrow night, but the Summer League will be crucial to the Lakers' 2010-11 roster.
After signing Steve Blake last week, the Lakers' next priority will be locking up Derek Fisher. After that, however, as the Kamenetzky brothers suggest, the Lakers will be looking to secure a 5th guard and another big man off the bench.
Those positions could clearly be filled by free agents, but in an inflated market the Lakers may not be able to land a quality player for the right price. That's where the Summer League comes in. If one of their two second-round picks or another invitee manages to wow the Lakers brass, it may end up earning them a spot on this year's roster.
So let's meet these young lads who, starting Friday, will be desperately vying for Mitch Kupchak's attention. I'll only talk about the ones I've heard of, but here is the complete summer league roster and schedule for your perusal. Highlights:
- Derrick Caracter, UTEP: One of the Lakers' second round picks...big time recruit out of high school, ran into problems at Louisville before transferring. Huge body, huge upside, but also a huge project.
- Devin Ebanks, West Virginia: Long, athletic big man who could eventually evolve into a small forward. Decent shot to make the Lakers roster, but at 20 years old could use some more time to develop (possibly in the D-League).
- Gerald Green, Gulf Shores Academy (High School): Yes, it is that Gerald Green. How far he has fallen from the emerging star with an unlimited ceiling that he was in Boston and then Minnesota. Now he's just hoping to catch on with a team. Sad, but at least he'll be good for one or two ridiculous highlights during the summer. Hopefully someone puts a cupcake on the rim before the game starts. HE BLEW OUT THE CANDLE!
- DJ Strawberry, Maryland: The son of Daaaaaaarrrrrryyyyyyylllllll needs no introduction in Los Angeles, since he was a local boy (played at Mater Dei). Strawberry hasn't done much in the NBA, but if Shannon Brown signs elsewhere, he could be a worthwhile replacement. Tall, athletic, good defender...all things the Lakers need off the bench. Keep your eye on this one.
- Ibrahim Jabeer, PENN: Don't know much about this guy, but as a fellow Ivy League grad I feel an obligation to mention him.
- Frank Robinson, CS Fullerton: Another local product (Sylmar High School), Robinson is an athletic guard who I had the pleasure of having to guard in a high school spring league. He sure made me look bad, so hopefully he can do the same to defenders this summer.
- Andrew Naymick, Michigan State: Holds the distinction of being possibly the largest Ginger on the face of the Earth. That's gotta be good for something, right?
So while most Summer League games are meaningless, the Lakers will be watching closely to see if one of these young bucks can actually make the squad. My money is on Caracter or Strawberry, but we'll likely only see one of them during the regular season.