The Los Angeles Lakers are still trying to fill out their training camp roster and appear a step closer with the expected signing of rookie free agent Zach Auguste, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
Auguste went undrafted out of Notre Dame and then played for the Lakers this summer. The 6-foot-10, 245-pound, power forward-center averaged 5.2 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 45.0 percent from the field in 15.8 minutes of action in Las Vegas. His best game in Las Vegas came against the Philadelphia 76ers (July 9), compiling eight points and seven caroms to go along with two steals and a blocked shot.
Auguste is a big body who is strong and athletic. He can run the floor well, and he handles the ball decently, which allows him to be dangerous face-up play. Auguste has a soft touch around the basket, but he is very limited offensively overall and doesn’t have any range on his jumper. NBA Draft compares him to Anderon Varejao, which is not a bad thing.
Auguste was one of the best power forwards in college basketball last year, producing 22 double-doubles while helping the Fighting Irish reach the Elite Eight. He averaged 14.0 points along with 10.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 29.6 minutes of action during his senior campaign. Auguste also shot 56.0 percent from the field and made 62.8 percent of free throws as he attempted 5.3 free throws a game.
So, what exactly does Auguste bring to the Lakers?
“Great energy, run the floor, transition, and the pick-and-roll,” Auguste told SB Nation when asked to describe what he brings to the Lakers. “I think I can actually help on the defensive end as well.”
With the inclusion of Auguste, first round draft pick Brandon Ingram, and Yi Jianlian – all of who have not officially signed — the Lakers will have at least 16 players in training camp. Los Angeles currently have 13 players with fully guaranteed contracts, not including Ingram, and there are conflicting reports surrounding Jianlian’s contract. It is unlikely that Auguste will get a fully guaranteed deal.
This is not to say the Lakers won’t add another player or two as the Inquisitr previously reported or move a player that is currently under contract.
But as it stands now, Auguste is likely ticketed to start the season with the D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders. It is conceivable that he can beat out Anthony Brown, who is slated to make $874,636 this year.
Brown is a raw prospect who struggled as a rookie last year. He was projected as a “3 and D” player but shot just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc last year on 70 attempts, and he did not perform as expected on defense. The 23-year-old ranked No. 71 in real plus-minus and No. 48 in defense real plus-minus in 2015-16.
Auguste’s biggest obstacle of making the club out training camp is that the Lakers already have a plethora of big men with Timofey Mozgov, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Tarik Black, Ivica Zubac, and Yianlian. Plus, Luol Deng can also play the power forward position. In reality, in order to make the team, Auguste will likely need the Lakers to either trade one of the bigs or dispose of Nick Young as reported.
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report doesn’t believe that Young will be with the team when the Lakers convene for training camp in late September.
“I would frankly be surprised if Nick Young was on the Lakers’ roster at the start of the season. They’ve been trying to trade him for a while, they’re still trying to trade him, they are willing to even buy him out if necessary to move on and really commit to the youth movement and let D’Angelo Russell do his thing. Which to me is a little bit of a shame because Nick did bring a legitimate breath of fresh air a couple years ago with his energy, his real pride in being a Laker when the team was terrible. Unfortunately, Nick sort of became terrible in recent times and that’s why they’re ready to move on from him.”
Young has had issues with Lakers management and a recent dust-up with D’Angelo Russell. He does have two years and $11-million left on his contract, although he has an early termination option that can be exercised next summer. Young has also seen his production drop in each of the last two years, following a career year in 2013-14, where he averaged 17.9 points and shot 43.5 percent from the field. In 2015-16, the 31-year-old tallied 7.3 points and shot 33.9 percent from the floor and 32.5 percent from beyond the arc.