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.