Jeff Ayres
Jeff Ayres attempts a layup during the Lakers' free agent minicamp on Aug. 17, 2016.
(Ty Nowell/

Lakers Hold Free Agent Minicamp

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

With teams allowed to carry as many as 20 players per roster during training camp, the Lakers held a free agent minicamp on Wednesday to take a look at some of those looking to break into the NBA or return to it.

“Most of these players are known players,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “To find a player here that no one in the world knows about is not likely. There are players that maybe left school too early, went to Europe (and) need time to develop. Then some of them are veterans just looking for an opportunity to hook up (with a team).”

Three of those present at the Lakers’ practice facility — Jeff Ayres, P.J. Hairston and Johnny O’Bryant — played in the NBA just last season. Three more — Xavier Henry, Orlando Johnson and Travis Wear — also have experience in the world’s top league.

Still, Kupchak cautioned that the team isn’t looking for a roster-shaking player with this one-day camp.

“I don’t think we’re looking at players here that would be in the rotation, although you never know,” Kupchak said. “They come to camp and earn whatever they can get. But what I think we’re looking at here are known players. They’re free agents and we do have roster spots open in terms of our team. But also we have roster spots open in terms of training camp.”

In addition to getting to look at some potential invitees to next month’s camp, this also allowed the Lakers’ coaches to get in a bit of run as well.

Head coach Luke Walton was in attendance while his assistants — Jesse Mermuys, Mark Madsen and Jud Buechler — organized the practice.

“There’s only so much you can get done in two practices in one day,” Kupchak said. “It’s always good to get the coaches on the court. It’s a new staff and they’re getting to know each other, but I wouldn’t say this is a prelude to what we’re going to be doing on the first day of training camp.”

Larry Nance Jr., D’Angelo Russell and Ivica Zubac also made appearances toward the end of the first session, waiting to use the court for practice themselves.

Kupchak was pleased with how the minicamp went, but maintained that the aforementioned current Lakers are certainly further along in their development.

“I thought it was a good workout,” Kupchak said. “We’re used to looking at our players coming here every morning — D’Angelo and Larry and Julius (Randle) and Jordan (Clarkson) — so it’s a different level. But these guys are certainly worthy of getting a close look and they’ve had great college careers and they’re good players in their own right.”

Minicamp Participants
- Jeff Ayres (Los Angeles Clippers/Arizona State)
- P.J. Hairston (Memphis Grizzlies/ North Carolina)
- Tyler Haws (Obradoiro CAB/BYU)
- Xavier Henry (Santa Cruz Warriors/Kansas)
- Pierre Jackson (Idaho Stampede/Baylor)
- Julian Jacobs (USC)
- Orlando Johnson (Guangxi Weizhuang/UC Santa Barbara)
- Nikola Jovanovic (USC)
- Mamadou Ndiaye (UC Irvine)
- Johnny O’Bryant III (Milwaukee Bucks/LSU)
- Wesley Saunders (Austin Spurs/Harvard)
- Travis Wear ( GBC/UCLA)
- Dion Wright (St. Bonaventure)

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