How the Lakers Spent Their Summer
The offseason is officially ticking down to its conclusion, as the Lakers will hold their annual media day on Monday before immediately shipping up to Santa Barbara for training camp.
This year's squad will be a blend of familiar and new faces who all kept busy over the summer, both on and off the court.
We begin with the returning players, who featured quite a few young guys that had some fun mixed in with plenty of hoops.
Two years after leaving Kansas University for the NBA Draft, Black returned to the Lawrence campus and earned his master’s degree in African-American studies. The 24-year-old also owns a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from the University of Memphis and re-signed with the Lakers in the offseason.
Like most of his young teammates, Brown has been constantly working with strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco, who says he has “made gains with lateral and straight-ahead quickness plus agility.” Brown had a lukewarm showing at the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 36.1 percent, though he did display some impressive perimeter defense.
Clarkson — who re-signed with the purple and gold over the summer — spent plenty of time on and around the court in Southern California, playing at the Drew League and coaching at the Power 106 All-Star Celebrity Basketball Game. But he also made two big trips abroad, visiting his place of heritage: the Philippines. After that, he served as an NBA ambassador in Beijing alongside teammate D’Angelo Russell.
“Marcelinho” put on a strong display in his home country during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The Sao Paulo native ranked third among all players at the Games in assists (6.6), while also averaging 10.4 points. However, Brazil did not make it into the knockout rounds, finishing with a 2-3 record. Like Black and Clarkson, Huertas re-signed with L.A. during the offseason.
Larry Nance Jr.
A big soccer fan, Nance spent plenty of time at LA Galaxy games when not in the gym. He was also one of the leaders of the Lakers’ Summer League team, providing a bit of everything with 9.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.8 blocks. Nance sprained his wrist on a hard fall in the Summer League finale, which was fortunate considering he initially thought it was broken.
Randle had perhaps the busiest summer of all, as he became engaged to his girlfriend, Kendra Shaw. On top of that, he visited Santorini, Greece, and checked out plenty of sports. He played at the Dodgers’ celebrity softball game, took a boy with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy to the Rams home opener and watched his teammates at Summer League. After that, he stayed in Vegas to play at USA Basketball training camp. In August, he ruptured the webbing between his right middle and ring fingers, but had the stitches removed three weeks later.
Russell has been a popular guy this summer, visiting China alongside Clarkson and playing at the Dodgers’ celebrity game with Randle. The Louisville native also made time to visit his hometown, but Lakers fans were most focused on what he did in Las Vegas. He put up 21.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest at Summer League, while also hitting the game-winning buzzer-beater in a much-anticipated battle with Philadelphia. After that, he joined Randle and Brandon Ingram in red, white and blue for USA Basketball training camp.
Williams has been in and out of the gym, working alongside his young teammates. Fittingly, the veteran also got a shout out from his own mentor, Allen Iverson, who told a story about Williams in his Hall of Fame induction speech, though Lou disagreed with his portrayal.
Metta World Peace
Before taking the Lakers’ last spot on the training camp roster, World Peace represented the team at Dodger Stadium by throwing out the first pitch on Lakers Night. He and Williams also made an appearance at the Luda Day celebrity game, hosted in Atlanta by rapper Ludacris, where Metta met Rio medalist Kristi Castlin, who took bronze in the 100-meter hurdles.
Swaggy P provided his annual summer scoring at the Drew League, where he and players like James Harden and Brandon Jennings took on challengers at L.A.’s biggest pro-am tournament. Off the floor, he held a back-to-school giveaway at Robertson Park, and Clarkson stopped by to help out.
Next up are the incoming players who are looking to prove that the Lakers were wise in obtaining their services.
Traded from New York to Chicago on June 22 and then again to the Lakers 15 days later, Calderon spent little of his time in any of these three major American cities. Instead, he was in Rio de Janeiro with the Spanish National Team for the 2016 Olympics. Calderon played sparingly, scoring 11 points in 25 total minutes, and retired from international play after Spain captured the bronze medal.
After signing with the Lakers, Deng kept busy by hosting the DENGTOP50 camp in London. Deng, who moved there when he was 8 years old, created the camp with the mission of finding the United Kingdom’s best high school players and helping streamline them to colleges, European clubs and the Great Britain National Team.
The second overall pick of the NBA Draft obviously had a busy summer heading into his rookie year. Ingram averaged 12.2 points and 4.2 rebounds at Summer League before remaining in Vegas to play on the USA Select Team, which helped the U.S. National Team prepare for the Olympics. Off the court, Ingram has gotten to know L.A., including when he threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium.
Mozgov has been the sole member of the Lakers not be constantly in and out of the team’s practice facility, but he had good reason for that. The Saint Petersburg native represented his native Russia for EuroBasket 2017 qualifying. The Russians booked their spot in the tournament by going 4-0, while Mozgov averaged 12.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Though China went winless in five games, Yi had a successful individual showing in Rio, averaging 20.4 points — the third-most of anyone in the Olympics. Prior to the Games, he payed a visit to his new home arena, as China faced Team USA in an exhibition at Staples Center, where the Americans dominated for a 106-57 victory.
Las Vegas was a successful trip for Zubac, who made sure to check out the sites like Caesars Palace and Topgolf. Back on the hardwood, he wowed some folks with his success at Summer League, averaging 10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.
Finally, there are the training camp invites who are hoping to make the Lakers’ coaches, staff and fans become very familiar with their names.
An undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame, Auguste has quickly become a popular guy in the locker room, hanging out off the court with his young teammates like Russell, Ingram and Brown. The Third Team All-ACC selection was solid for L.A. at Summer League, averaging 5.2 points and 4.0 rebounds.
The USC product played for the Indiana Pacers at the Orlando Summer League. There, he pitched in 4.0 points on 43.8 percent shooting in 11.5 minutes per game.
One of the last players to sign on for training camp, Robinson has kept a low profile this summer, though he did hold a back-to-school drive in his native Washington, D.C., alongside former Kansas University teammates Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris.
TODAY. No nonsense it's for the kids!! pic.twitter.com/kopfjT2u6T— thomas robinson (@Trobinson0) August 20, 2016
After a year of playing in Spain, the Huntington Beach native got married over the summer and spent some time afterward with his new wife in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
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