Reeves Nelson listens to UCLA Coach Ben Howland during a preseason game… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Former UCLA forward Reeves Nelson will be invited to the Lakers training camp that begins in early October after he signs a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, potentially worth about $700,000 with the team, Nelson told The Times on Tuesday.
Nelson would probably be considered a long shot to make the Lakers. But he considers the training camp invitation to be a blessing, particularly because he was dismissed from UCLA in December of 2011, largely for his disruptive attitude.
“I'm very grateful,” Nelson said. “It's nice because I'm pretty sure that virtually no one thought I could get this far, so it's pretty gratifying.”
Nelson played for the Lakers' summer league team in Las Vegas, but he didn't see much action until the last two games. His best performance came in the Lakers' final summer league game against the Clippers, when he had seven points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes.
“I didn't get to play very much in the first three games, and after the fact they told me that it was testing my sportsmanship,” Nelson said. “It was concerning everything that happened at UCLA and they said I did about as good as they ever could have expected.”
Nelson said he was asked to come to the Lakers' facility in El Segundo before training camp starts, and that he's been working out there for the past three weeks.
"Mitch [Kupchak] thinks he's a valuable player," said Nelson's agent, J.R. Harris.
Of his possible role with the Lakers, Nelson said, “Obviously when you have Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard and Steve Nash and Pau Gasol and everything, you're not going to get a lot of shots up. I’m just going to do rebounding, hustle plays.”
Nelson was once thought to be a potential first-round NBA draft pick before his career at UCLA derailed. He went undrafted in June, months after a Sports Illustrated expose painted him as a bully.
Nelson filed a $10-million defamation lawsuit against Sports Illustrated in May. The lawsuit contained sworn declarations from 18 former teammates who said certain allegations against Nelson contained in the story were false.
Sports Illustrated has said it stands behind the story.
After his dismissal from UCLA, Nelson played with BC Zalgiris, a professional team in Lithuania. In six games with Zalgiris, Nelson averaged 2.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 10 minutes, according to the league website. The team released him after five weeks.
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