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Devin Ebanks says he's not thinking about free agency

May 07, 2012|By Mark Medina

An interesting reality surrounds Devin Ebanks as he steps on the court.

His promotion to the Lakers' starting small forward during Metta World Peace's seven-game suspension serves as an audition for two different parties.

One party involves Lakers Coach Mike Brown, who has given him scarce playing time after starting him for the season's first four games. The other part of the equation involves other teams, since Ebanks will become a restricted free agent on July 1.

Still, Ebanks maintained after Monday's practice at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo that "I'm just focused on the playoffs" and declined to entertain his thought process heading into free agency.

"When I'm out there, I'm just thinking about playing hard and winning games," said Ebanks. "I don't worry too much about trying to showcase my talents for other teams. I just try to go out there and play my game."

Brown and various teammates have indirectly supported Ebanks' contention by pointing out how he's treated his playing time. Instead of Ebanks utilizing his increased role as a chance to pad his statistics, Brown and teammates respect how he's simply played his role. Brown has stressed the need for Ebanks to play "solid," ranging from making open shots when others are double-teamed, to rebounding, playing defense and making hustle plays.

"Ebanks has really stepped up and proved his worth," Bryant said. "When Metta gets back, I'm sure we'll still utilize him a great deal."

Even though Brown has praised Ebanks' contributions, it remains unclear if Bryant's prediction will play out.

Brown named Ebanks the team's starting small forward at the beginning of the season, only to yank him in favor of Matt Barnesand World Peace. The increased playing time Ebanks experienced in the last month came through unusual circumstances, including Bryant's left shin injury that sidelined him for eight games and World Peace's suspension. Ebanks' agent, David Bauman, told The Times two months ago that he'd shop Ebanks around to other teams should the Lakers keep World Peace and Barnes, creating a logjam at small forward.

Ebanks' latest opportunity surely has to help his cause for the Lakers and other suitors. His playoff averages of five points and 4.3 rebounds per game hardly reflects World Peace's 14 points per game average in April. But the numbers still mark a slight improvmenets over his regular-season averages of four points and 2.2 rebounds. The second-year player also opened Game 1 with 12 points mere hours after Denver Coach George Karl admitted he couldn't pronounce Ebanks' name correctly.

"Tomorrow is not a promise," Ebanks said. "We're not even guaranteed that. I'm just staying even keeled and focused."

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E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com. Follow the Lakers blog on Twitter.

Devin Ebanks says he's not thinking about free agency

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