The Los Angeles Lakers are heading into a rebuilding season with a roster stocked with young talent. The future of the franchise looks bright coming off of a franchise-worst 17-win season, with players like D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, and Brandon Ingram all show flashes of brilliance during July’s Las Vegas Summer League.
However, another player managed to make an impact: Zach Auguste, the undrafted power forward/center out of Notre Dame. Summer League is renowned for games played at a break-neck pace, due in part to the fact that the majority of the players involved don’t have guaranteed contracts and are looking to make their mark.
Given the environment, it’s impressive that Auguste was able to stand out with his hustle. He was all over the court and did the dirty work in the paint for the Lakers, who apparently took notice despite his averages of just 5.4 points and 4 rebounds.
According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, Los Angeles will sign Auguste to a contract:
I hear the Lakers have a deal with Zach Auguste, who played for the summer league squad, haven't gotten word on terms
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) August 21, 2016
Of course, the terms of the deal aren’t yet known, so this doesn’t necessarily mean that Auguste will be with the Lakers on opening night. His deal could be non-guaranteed, with the expectation being that Auguste plays for the D-Fenders should he not make the cut (the Lakers used a similar tactic last summer with Michael Frazier, Jonathan Holmes, and Robert Upshaw).
If Auguste’s deal is guaranteed the Lakers will have some decisions to make, as he would be their 16th player (including Yi Jianlian). NBA rules limit NBA regular season rosters to 15, which means they would have to cut someone with a guaranteed contract in order to keep Auguste around. All eyes would, of course, turn to Nick Young, who is rumored to be on the outs with the organization.
Auguste’s inclusion would also potentially create a problem for the Lakers in terms of positional diversity, as they already have a plethora of big men. Auguste’s skills also seem to duplicate those of Tarik Black as an undersized center who gets by on grit and hustle. The Lakers just gave Black a two-year contract, so it’s doubtful that Auguste would see many minutes next season if he does make the team.
That said, Auguste is still an interesting player to develop, and if the Lakers feel he can someday contribute then they might as well give him a look regardless of his fit on the current roster.