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Devin Ebanks waited to sign with Lakers until Dwight Howard trade

August 21, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Lakers forward Devin Ebanks re-signed with the Lakers last week to a one-year deal worth a little more than $1 million.
Lakers forward Devin Ebanks re-signed with the Lakers last week to a one-year… (Gerald Herbert / Associated…)

As time passed by, Devin Ebanks could only stay patient.

He took that approach when he waited until last week to sign the Lakers' one-year qualifying offer for a little more than $1 million.

"We were just waiting to see if the Dwight Howard trade would go through or not," said Ebanks, who frequently consulted with his agent, David Bauman, to ensure the Lakers wouldn't lump him in what became a four-team, 12-player deal. "This is the place I want to be. I've been here my whole career. Our choice was pretty much set. We were just waiting on the Dwight move."

Ebanks stayed patient as he spent four weeks from mid June to July treating what he called a "tweaked" left knee. Around that time, Ebanks played in a pro-am game in New York City and suffered what he called a "freak accident" by slipping on a wet spot on the floor. So Ebanks and the Lakers agreed he sit out summer league games.

"They felt it was best to give it a rest and let it heal naturally," Ebanks said. "I'm back now working out and it's pretty much 100%."

Ebanks has also stayed patient with a limited role the last two seasons with the Lakers. Yet, the Lakers have liked how he's progressively improved ever since selecting him with their 43rd pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Ebanks averaged only four points on 41.6% shooting last season, but his role was elevated.

Lakers Coach Mike Brown surprisingly gave him the starting nod for the first four games of last season at small forward. After spending the rest of the season mostly on the bench, Ebanks cracked the starting lineup  because of Kobe Bryant's late-season shin injury and Metta World Peace's seven-game suspension for elbowing Thunder guard James Harden. In Ebanks' 12 starts, he averaged 6.4 points on 47.7% shooting.

"I improved in having confidence in making my jump shot," Ebanks said. "I don't like to say there's a lot of things I'm improved on because I need to improve on everything."

It's possible Ebanks won't have to be as patient this season. He may have a bigger role at small forward, considering the Lakers didn't resign veteran forward Matt Barnes. Ebanks also has plenty of incentive to do well, considering he will become a free agent next summer. But Ebanks pledged not to think in those terms, especially since the Lakers boast a star-studded starting lineup in Howard, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and World Peace.

"I just want to make myself better for the team," Ebanks said. "There's no individual goals. I'm definitely not one of the players people are going to be focusing on this year. I just need to step into my role and make shots when I take them."

Ebanks says he was cleared to play last month and has routinely visited the Lakers' practice facility, working with assistant coaches Chuck Person and Darvin Ham. Ebanks has mostly worked on shots both off the dribble and in the post. He's maintained a consistent shooting stroke where he's fully extending his follow through, an area Lakers development coach Phil Handy believed Ebanks struggled with last season. Currently at 225 pounds, Ebanks plans to ratchet up his workout intensity in hopes of adding more strength in both his hips and legs.

All these developments appear fairly subtle. But then again, that's what has helped Ebanks stay on the Lakers thus far. On a team filled with superior talent, Ebanks has slowly but surely tried to prove he's a dependable role player. He's just had to stay patient.

Said Ebanks: "I'm happy to be a Laker."

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Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com. Follow the Lakers blog on Twitter.

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