Ex-Lakers G-League Star Signs Contract With West Rivals

Former Laker Mac McClung (left)

Getty Former Laker Mac McClung (left)

For a franchise that has taken some well-earned criticism for a failure to develop young players, this has the potential to sting.

Promising point guard prospect Mac McClung, who has been mostly connected with the Lakers and closed last season with the team, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors after the defending NBA champs plucked him from L.A.’s summer roster just before the start of the Las Vegas Summer League.

The deal is non-guaranteed, so McClung might not stick with the Warriors. But the team has only 11 players under contract, and has one two-way spot available. With Golden State’s reputation for development well ahead of that of the Lakers, there is a chance that McClung could thrive.

When last season ended, McClung seemed to be under the impression he would remain a Laker. After his exit interview with the team, he told reporters, “We’re just going to stay the course, try to work on the things I need to get better at and see where this summer takes us.”


McClung Played Well in Summer League

McClung averaged 13.4 points on 45.6% shooting and 50.0% 3-point shooting during the Las Vegas Summer League. He also added 4.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds during the tournament, logging 24.4 minutes in five games.

The minutes he got with the Warriors were the important thing.  McClung hoped to make a good showing this summer to secure an NBA future, and averaged 13.0 points per game in two games with the Lakers in the California Classic Summer League in San Francisco. That preceded the Las Vegas circuit. But he was concerned about getting on the floor among a crowded guard rotation in L.A., which was looking at second-round pick Max Christie as well as Scottie Pippen Jr., Javante McCoy and Mason Jones, all of whom got more minutes than McClung.

The Lakers did like what they saw from Pippen, a solid scorer (11.8 points in Las Vegas) and playmaker (4.8 assists) who also notched 2.6 steals per game. Pippen struggled with his shooting all summer, though, making 35.3% from the field and 20.7% from the 3-point line in eight summer games. Still, he has a chance to earn a spot.


McClung Was G-League ROY

The loss of McClung could come back to hurt the Lakers if he develops into a rotation player. He has some (limited, but some) NBA experience, and made one appearance each for the Bulls and Lakers, scoring eight total points in 25 minutes. He averaged 21.7 points, 7.6 assists, 6. 6 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season for the South Bay Lakers and Windy City Bulls of the G-League, and made 40.3% of his 3-pointers during that stint.

McClung had been undrafted out of Texas Tech but signed on with the Lakers’ summer entry in 2021. He played in five games and averaged 4.2 points and 1.6 assists, enough to garner him a camp invite.

He was named the G-League’s Rookie of the Year for his efforts last year, helping South Bay into the playoffs.

“It meant a lot,” he said after the season. “It’s not something I was really focused on at all, I wanted to win with the South Bay Lakers, a championship for them. Coach (Miles) Simon just announced it, it was a shock because my mind wasn’t there. But it’s definitely a huge honor, and I am very appreciative of it. My coaches, and everyone, it wouldn’t have happened without them. Super-lucky to have them, it was an honor.”

 

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