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Robert Sacre waited and waited; now it's his turn

LAKERS FYI

Center Robert Sacre waited through entire 2012 draft before Lakers took him with final pick, then another 17 months for first NBA start.

December 07, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers center Robert Sacre (50) celebrates with guard Steve Blake during a game against the Trail Blazers last week at Staples Center.
Lakers center Robert Sacre (50) celebrates with guard Steve Blake during… (Paul Buck / EPA )

Robert Sacre was surrounded by his family near the TV at his grandfather's New Orleans home, watching names being called ever so slowly, the obvious ones followed several hours later by not-so-obvious ones.

Anthony Davis. Bradley Beal. Damian Lillard . . . Izzet Turkyilmaz. Furkan Aldemir. Marcus Denmon.

There was one pick left in the 2012 NBA draft. One name.

Sacre had practically given up. He was putting his infant son, Quinton, to sleep.

Then NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver uttered Sacre's name. The Lakers chose Sacre. He could finally exhale.

"Man, that was the longest day of my life," he said. "Unbelievably long. I waited those four hours to see my name called. I didn't think it was going to be called by them. They didn't work me out or anything."

He was appreciative back then. Now they're the thankful ones.

Sacre has been a stream of energy the last two weeks, initially moving past Chris Kaman ($3.2 million salary) as the first big man off the bench and then Jordan Hill ($3.5 million) into the starting lineup.

Sacre is the team's lowest-paid player ($788,873) other than rookie Ryan Kelly. He had 11 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes of the Lakers' 106-100 victory Sunday over Sacramento, the first NBA game Sacre ever started.

"I know what they want from me right now is to be a high-energy guy and play hard," he said.

On a team with so much uncertainty next summer, Sacre is one of four players under contract beyond this season. He is guaranteed $915,243 next season, about $33.5 million less than Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Nick Young can earn in 2014-15.

The Lakers quietly offered him an extension a few days after losing the Dwight Howard sweepstakes last July. Sacre happily signed.

"They have confidence with me to get me a deal like that," he said. "Obviously, they know I'm a good player and I know I'm a good player. I don't want to toot my horn, I've just had to wait for my opportunity to shine."

About that waiting. He went from finishing with the second-most blocked shots in Gonzaga history to finishing NBA games without even entering them.

He had minuscule averages of 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds as a rookie. The biggest news he made during the off-season was teaming with Kaman to buy a grass-fed cow. They divided up the supposedly healthier meat.

Now he's making headlines for basketball-related things.

"I couldn't be happier for a kid like him. This guy's always up," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said recently. "He sometimes gets the short end of the stick because he's such a good guy. He'll play 30 seconds or whatever. At some point you go, you know what, he needs to play."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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