Former Laker Caracter Signs In Puerto Rico, Chance To Battle Back To NBA

LOS ANGELES CA - JANUARY 11: Derrick Caracter #45 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Samardo Samuels #24 of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center on January 11 2011 in Los Angeles California. The Lakers won 112-57. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers are getting ready for another postseason run and will likely face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA playoffs in the Western Conference.

Derrick Caracter, on the other hand, is bound for Puerto Rico.

It's not a vacation destination for the former Laker, but a stepping stone chance to get back in the NBA where he's spent the last two seasons. On Saturday, Mets de Guaynabo in Puerto Rico's BSN -- or National Superior Basketball League as its officially known -- signed Caracter for the remainder of the season.

Now instead of calling the Staples Center and its 19,000 seating capacity home, Caracter will be performing at Mario Morales Coliseum, which when sold out holds 5,500 fans.

That's just one of the adjustments on the way.

In early February, Los Angeles released the second-year forward who was originally selected by the Lakers with the 58th pick of the 2010 NBA Draft out of UTEP (after starting his collegiate career at Louisville) and averaged 2.0 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.2 minutes in 41 games as a rookie under then-head coach Phil Jackson.

After a long lockout-extended offseason, Caracter suffered a knee injury during the preseason and didn't appear in a game with the Lakers, but spent four games with Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League averaged 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks in 23.5 minutes.

At 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds, Caracter is a player who has battled concerns over his weight and general body type and was no stranger to juggling life between the NBA and D-League (also spent time with the Bakersfield Jam, Idaho Stampede and Rio Grande Vipers), but taking his game down to Puerto Rico simply provides another chance to build his game on a pro level.

Lets not forget the contract stipulation with the Lakers that, the first year of his $473,000 contract would become fully guaranteed if he weighed 275 pounds or less through the course of the season. Instead, he teetered the scale between 275 and 280 for much of the season.

To Caracter's credit, he did lose 28 pounds after making the move to the NBA, so Caracter knows how to tap into a drive and dedication to get better when it comes to controlling his weight. Although he didn't capitalize on particular opportunities in Los Angeles his rookie season, that doesn't mean Caracter can't reach that goal again with a little hard work.

The thing is, he has to want to get better.

Caracter has to believe he belongs in the NBA.

Because the reality right now is, he's just another former NBA player in the BSN looking for a second chance at a first impression.

He joins the likes of Al Thornton (Brujos de Guayama), Melvin Ely (Brujos de Guayama), Patrick O'Bryant (Vaqueros de Bayamon), Mike Sweetney (Vaqueros de Bayamon) Donta Smith (Vaqueros de Bayamon) and Ike Diogu (Capitanes de Arecibo) in Puerto Rico.

Looking ahead to this summer and next season, maybe one or two of these notable players receives an offer to participate in a veteran's camp or is signed to training camp. At least that is the plan and what these guys are playing for.

Caracter can only hope his number is called.

Update: Caracter had 17 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes in his debut for Mets de Guaynabo in a 92-87 overtime win against Mayaguez on Saturday.

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