Jun 22, 2022
Lakers Work Out Former No. 2 Draft Pick Bust Ahead of Free Agency: Report
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Getty Derrick Williams, who worked out for the Lakers.
Give the Lakers credit. After flopping entirely while bringing on a raft of big-name players last season, they have so far been a lot more open to beating the bushes to find hungrier, more motivated players this time around. They’re rumored to be looking into making a deal to get into the second round of Thursday’s NBA draft, for example.
And they’ve held a workout with at least one guy who was once a big deal on draft night, former No. 2 pick Derrick Williams. That, according to J.D. Shaw of HoopsRumors.com, took place on Tuesday, two days ahead of the draft.
Williams was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA draft after Kyrie Irving, a 6-foot-8 combo forward who is now 31 years old. He played every game as a rookie for Minnesota in 2011-12, but questions about his work ethic arose, and he averaged 8.8 points on just 41.2% shooting. He bounced through six organizations in seven NBA seasons, and closed his career in the league with two appearances for the Lakers on a 10-day contract in March 2018.
He has been with four European teams in the last four seasons, most recently with Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he carved out a role as a bruising stretch-4 off the bench, making more than 40% of his 3-pointers.Darren Collison Also Among Workout Invitees
Williams was not alone as a former Laker returning for a look from the team—also in the workout was Darren Collison, whose connection to the team goes back to early 2020, when the team was considering signing him out of retirement as a post-deadline addition.
Collison had not played since 2018 when the Lakers signed him last December for a stint as a hardship player. He scored four total points in three games with the Lakers and, at age 34, it is unclear whether he still has much to offer an NBA team.
Other players with NBA experience also showed their wares for the Lakers at the workout, including four-year veteran Sindarius Thornwell; one-time top recruit (and Ben Simmons’ teammate at LSU) Antonio Blakeney, who spent two years with the Bulls; and Jaylen Adams, the former St. Bonaventure point guard who had stints in Atlanta and Milwaukee. Most interesting among the group may be French 7-footer Olivier Sarr, who played 22 games for the Thunder while on a two-way contract with the team.
Justin Tillman, Romeo Weems, L.J. Figueroa and Craig Randall II of the G-League also played. Randall was the G-League’s Most Improved Player last year.Lakers Looking for More Heart, Hustle
The Lakers figure to take a more strategic approach to building the roster this season, after bringing in six potential Hall of Fame players on last year’s team. The team is hoping to construct a roster that has better athleticism and defensive intensity, but also has some players willing to bring energy, on a team that was too often too cool to play with grit and toughness.
To that end, the Lakers are expected to keep Stanley Johnson, who played well in a limited opportunity last year, around for next season. Wenyen Gabriel could stay put, too, and the Lakers are expected to get last year’s hustling undrafted rookie, Austin Reaves, a bigger role this season.
News Source: Heavy.com
Celtics Battling Lakers for Key Free-Agent on Comeback Trail: Report
Getty Thomas Bryant, right
The Celtics are still seeking ways to bolster their front line, and will have to compete against the team’s oldest rival for a way to do so—they’re battling the Lakers, apparently, for the services of big man Thomas Bryant, who last played for the Wizards but was unable to get much of a role with the team as he came back from an ACL tear the previous season.
Bryant could be a strong value play, because his worth is obviously diminished by his subpar results from last season, when he averaged 7.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 16.3 minutes. He is likely to sign a veteran minimum contract.
Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Haynes wrote on Twitter that, Bryant is getting, “significant interest from contending teams including Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.”
Yahoo Sources: Free agent center Thomas Bryant is receiving significant interest from contending teams including Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. He’s expected to make a decision later this morning.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 1, 2022
The Celtics want to secure some insurance for the oft-injured Robert Williams, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in late March and struggled to maintain consistent health when he returned in the postseason. Boston has Daniel Theis on its bench, but coach Ime Udoka never appeared fully comfortable using Theis in an expanded role.Bryant Is Only 25 Years Old
Bryant is only 25 years old, which means he should be able to fully recover from his injury in time. If he can get back to the level of production he put forth before the injury, he might be one of the bigger free-agent bargains this summer.
Bryant had a breakthrough in his third season in the league, in 2019-20, when he averaged 13.2 points and 7.8 rebounds and earned the Wizards’ starting job. But just 10 games into that season, Bryant—while averaging 14.3 points and 6.1 rebounds—suffered the injury, knocking him out for the remainder of the year.
The Wizards traded for center Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline, and played him mostly at center, though in limited (17) games. Daniel Gafford earned the job as starting center for much of the year and slipped into the role of reserve when Porzingis came aboard for Washington, leaving Bryant without much playing time.Bryant Consider a Major FA Bargain
One Eastern Conference executive spoke about Bryant as one of the best potential bargain additions ahead of the start of free agency. Bryant had shot 64.8% from the field in 2020-21, making 42.9% of his 3s, albeit in a small sample size. Those numbers plummeted to 52.0% and 28.6% from the 3-point line last year as Bryant struggled with his role.
“He has the potential to be a stretch-5 who also can play some defense in the middle, block shots,” the East exec said. “He is a tough guy and he worked hard to try to reshape his game, but the injury came at was the worst possible time for him, just as he was starting to put it all together.
“Of course, you worry about an injury like that and how someone is going to play after it, but the way rehab goes now, something like 90% of players get back to pre-injury level. It’s higher for a guy as young as him. He is a gamble but if you’re not paying out a big contract, he is not even that big of a gamble. He’s going to make someone happy next season, I would guess.”