Lakers Coach Mike Brown talks to forward Devin Ebanks during a break in the… (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty…)
Reporting from Sacramento -- People don't know quite what to think of Devin Ebanks.
Lakers fans want to call him the next Trevor Ariza. Coach Mike Brown wants to call him a starter. Magic Johnson jokingly called him "Eubanks" in a TV interview, a reference to all the new faces on the Lakers.
Ebanks hopes for one thing.
"Everybody in the league wants to start. I'm definitely going to do whatever to keep it," he said.
Ebanks emerged from a crowded field of small forwards to earn a start in the Lakers' first two games.
He has heard the comparisons to Ariza, the lanky small forward who excelled during the Lakers' championship run in 2009.
"I don't think much of it," Ebanks said more matter-of-factly than with malice. "I'm Devin Ebanks. Not Ariza."
Ebanks scored eight points in the opener against Chicago, didn't have any turnovers and played decent defense but had only one rebound in a little more than 23 minutes.
As the team plane flew from Los Angeles to Sacramento on Christmas night, Brown told Ebanks to get more rebounds.
He had six points and six rebounds in 18 minutes Monday against Sacramento.
Ebanks played only 20 games and averaged 3.1 points last season after getting drafted in the second round in 2010. Thanks to the glut of small forwards on the roster, Ebanks is still auditioning as a starter.
"It's a job interview and I have the right to end that interview any time that I want, especially when I have some pretty good veterans sitting and pushing the guys in front of them," Brown said.
Brown might have sounded a bit like Donald Trump, but he also had kind words for Ebanks.
"If he approaches it the way that I think he's capable of, he'll be a very good player in this league for a long time, making a lot of money," Brown said.
There was an opener in Sacramento instead of Anaheim, somewhat surprisingly.
Last April, the Lakers ended the regular season in Sacramento with what many expected to be the final Kings home game in Northern California.
But the Kings never made it to Anaheim despite NBA Commissioner David Stern saying Southern California can support a third NBA team.
Sacramento was given a reprieve, one final chance to keep the team. In fact, the NBA just received a progress report on the Kings' attempt to secure financing for a new arena to replace aging Power Balance Pavilion, formerly called Arco Arena.
Brown said he was "a little bit" surprised to see basketball still in the state capital.
"From the outside looking in, you heard that the [Anaheim] deal was already done, for the most part," Brown said. "But you've got to give credit to [Mayor] Kevin Johnson and the city of Sacramento for doing what they need to do to give this thing another go."