The Los Angeles Lakers wanted to get back into this year’s draft after sitting out last year’s, and they were able to make it happen by giving cash and a future second-round pick to the Orlando Magic for the No. 35 pick. The team decided to select Max Christie out of Michigan State but he wasn’t the only player the team added on draft night. Los Angeles has had success with undrafted free agents like Alex Caruso and Austin Reaves in the past.
For this year’s undrafted free agent class, the Lakers have decided to bring in a name who will be familiar to the fan base. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the team has agreed to a deal with Shareef O’Neal that will have him play in the NBA Summer League.
This isn’t a two-way contract so O’Neal will have to show potential in Summer League if he hopes to get a training camp spot with the Lakers. Notably, the former LSU big man is the son of 15-time NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal, who won three championships in Los Angeles. It’s certainly a great story that the young big man is going to wear the same uniforms as his father did. It’s an uphill battle for O’Neal to make the roster but it’ll be exciting to see him in Lakers gear during Summer League.
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Shaq Didn’t Want Shareef to Enter Draft
Shaquille O’Neal is an athlete who has had a ton of success off the court. He continues to be an international superstar despite retiring over a decade ago. Shareef O’Neal was born into a highly successful family and didn’t need to play basketball to make a living. His father actually didn’t want him to even enter this year’s draft. O’Neal opened up about having to battle his father regarding the decision.
“We kind of bump heads about this process,” O’Neal prior to the draft, via ESPN. “He wanted me to stay in school. I wanted to better myself through this. He knows I’m working out with teams. But I’m not going to lie, we ain’t talked about this. I’m kind of just going through it. He didn’t do any pre-draft workouts; he just got straight on the [Orlando Magic], so it’s a different grind.
“So, he didn’t want me to do this, and I know he probably doesn’t want me saying this, but sorry. We’re both grown, we’ll get past it.”
Shaquille O’Neal didn’t initially get his degree before entering the NBA but he did receive a bachelor’s degree in general studies from LSU in 2000 while he was with the Lakers. It’s not too late for Shareef O’Neal to follow a similar path.
Does O’Neal Have Any Chance at Making an NBA Roster?
Shareef O’Neal is not his father. Shaquille O’Neal was one of the best draft prospects ever and ended up being the No. 1 overall pick in 1992. He then put together one of the greatest careers the NBA has ever seen, winning four championships and an MVP. Shareef has to take a different path. He’s going to have to work his way up from the bottom.
Like his father, Shareef has great size at 6-foot-11. He’s also got good athleticism. However, he only played 11 minutes per game in college and averaged 2.6 points. It’s unlikely he’s going to explode in Summer League and start averaging 20 points a game. He’s also 22 already so there’s limited room to grow. That said, he clearly wants to forge his own path and the Lakers are the perfect team to give him a chance. If he can’t make an NBA roster this season, don’t be surprised to see him end up on the South Bay Lakers of the G League.