Lakers rookie Robert Sacre battles the Clippers' Blake Griffin during… (Harry How / Getty Images )
While the Lakers haven't officially submitted their final roster to the league, it's a near-lock that center Robert Sacre will be on that list.
Sacre was taken with the 60th pick in the 2012 NBA draft after five years at Gonzaga. The 23-year-old rookie started six exhibitions for the Lakers while Dwight Howard recovered from back injury.
Over eight games, Sacre averaged 6.4 points on 51.4% shooting, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.
"I think Sacre, he knows who he is," said Coach Mike Brown. "He knows how to use his size and his strength. He's shown he has some skill set too and he tries to play within himself. As long as he keeps that up, he might be able to get some minutes here and there."
Brown wasn't talking about whether or not Sacre would make the roster. He was suggesting he may actually be part of the team's rotation.
Sacre's 24.6 minutes per game in the preseason will certainly shrink once the regular season begins. Brown has said that he expects to keep either Pau Gasol or Howard on the floor for the bulk of most games. Jordan Hill would be the third big, with some minutes going to both Antawn Jamison and Sacre.
Jamison may primarily play as the backup small forward to Metta World Peace instead of power forward, but Brown's rotation is still in the early-planning stages.
Sacre, who recently shaved his head and is sporting a pair of black eyes after taking a blow to the nose, wasn't sure Saturday if he had made the team yet.
"You never know what they might be thinking. I have no control over this except for playing on the court," said Sacre. "Obviously in the back of your mind it's always going to be in the back, but there's nothing I can do. It's not in my hands. There's nothing I can do."
Even if Sacre makes it to opening night as expected, non-guaranteed contracts aren't locked in for the year until early January (or sooner, if specified in his contract).
To acquire players like Steve Nash and Howard, the Lakers have given up significant draft resources. While Sacre will never be confused with a lottery talent like Howard, the Lakers just need a consistent, young, dependable center on their bench.
Sacre brings all that, along with a positive attitude.
The Lakers hope they won't need him to play significant minutes this year, but Sacre has already shown he has the potential to help this team, even as a rookie.