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NBA SUMMER LEAGUE

Chris Douglas-Roberts trying to get his NBA career started again

Chris Douglas-Roberts, who has played for four NBA teams, hopes he can impress some team while playing for the Lakers' summer league team.

July 17, 2013|By Ben Bolch
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts hopes to impress the Lakers enough that they'll keep him around after the Las Vegas Summer League is over.
Chris Douglas-Roberts hopes to impress the Lakers enough that they'll… (Julie Jacobson / Associated…)

LAS VEGAS — He won't roll his eyes. He won't shake his head. He won't sigh.

If this is what it takes for Chris Douglas-Roberts to get back into the NBA, well, bring on as many seemingly meaningless games as it takes.

The onetime college star whose professional career once held significant promise now finds himself among hundreds of fringe hopefuls trying to impress in the Las Vegas Summer League.

It's an odd spot for a player who once averaged 17.3 points a game for a month with the New Jersey Nets.

Not that Douglas-Roberts thinks he's above it.

"At this point, I don't have any ego anymore," he said Wednesday night after a practice with the Lakers' summer league team. "I have to pay these dues, wherever they are. If they're in summer league, whatever, I have to pay these dues."

If things work out, Douglas-Roberts will earn an invitation to fall training camp with the Lakers or another team, where he would have to prove himself anew. If not, who knows? The 6-foot-7 swingman concedes he doesn't have a Plan B because he doesn't want it to detract from his focus on Plan A.

He was one of the last players cut in the Lakers' training camp last fall. After scoring as many as 49 points in one game during a brief stint in the Development League, he earned a call-up with the Dallas Mavericks but was waived after six games.

It was just another disappointment in a series of letdowns that started shortly after New Jersey drafted the former Memphis standout early in the second round in 2008. A knee injury limited him to 44 games in his rookie season.

The following season started with promise even though the Nets lost their first 17 games. Douglas-Roberts experienced a breakthrough, scoring in double figures in 20 of the team's first 28 games before he fell out of the rotation.

Kiki Vandeweghe, who was then New Jersey's interim coach, said the emergence of rookie Terrence Williams and the return of a few injured players resulted in reduced playing time for Douglas-Roberts.

"Chris hit a little bit of a confidence bump in the road when Terrence started playing well and Devin Harris got healthy," Vandeweghe said, "so a lot of the guard time was taken up."

The Nets traded Douglas-Roberts the next summer to Milwaukee, where he had a decent season. But with the lockout looming, Douglas-Roberts wanted to make sure he kept playing and signed with Virtus Bologna of the Italian League.

He's barely made a peep in the NBA since then.

A sprained ankle has limited him for two of the Lakers' three summer league games, his averages of eight points and 1.6 assists on the modest side. But Douglas-Roberts said he no longer fashions himself as a prolific scorer, his game having evolved into one that emphasizes versatility.

"I know people expect me to have tremendous scoring numbers, but that's not what I'm here to do, honestly," he said. "I'm just trying to play more of a point-forward role and get guys involved as if I was actually playing on the real team."

Appearances don't matter as much to Douglas-Roberts anymore. He acknowledged having cringed when he was in the Lakers' training camp last fall, his status having taken such a serious hit.

Now he's willing to do whatever it takes, something Vandeweghe said he's noticed while watching his former player in the summer league.

"He's somebody who has matured a great deal and is not only going to utilize his skill in scoring but to make others around him better, and that's something all young players need to learn — to facilitate more, handle the ball, maybe run a team a little bit more," said Vandeweghe, who is the NBA's vice president of basketball operations. "Those are all things that come with time."

At 26, Douglas-Roberts realizes time is one commodity that's no longer in heavy supply when it comes to his making the NBA. He hopes a new attitude results in a different outcome.

"Last year, I kind of had a higher expectation," he said. "But you can't do that. You're never done paying dues and that's how I look at this."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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