After another season of struggles and mishaps in Los Angeles, the Lakers went into this offseason trying to find a new identity. Former Lakers forward Luke Walton is going into his first season as an NBA head coach, and he wants to make sure he goes into the 2016-17 season with all the right pieces to make Los Angeles a city of champions once again. And that starts with offseason moves.
With training camp approaching at end of September, Walton and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchick wants to make sure they have enough talent to assess before their first game on October 26 against the Houston Rockets. With 16 players already on board to El Segundo, they added two more by signing guard Julian Jacobs and forward Travis Wear.
Jacobs is used to the pressure of playing in Los Angeles. The 21-year-old guard from Las Vegas played three season with the USC Trojans. Last season, Jacobs lead the Trojans to a 21-13 record and their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2011 before falling to Providence in the first round, Jacobs finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assist.
He finished the season averaging 11.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game and was named First Team All-Pac-12. After his strong junior campaign, he elected to forgo his senior season to enter the 2016 NBA Draft, but went undrafted.
Jacobs would get another chance at his NBA dream shortly after the draft when he was invited to play for the Indiana Pacers at the Orlando Summer League. In four games, he averaged 4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
Jacobs can offer the Lakers athleticism, defending ability and ability to get to the rim off the dribble, but he struggles to shoot the ball from long-range. With teams making the transition towards outside shooting, Jacobs doesn’t offer much in that category, averaging 32.6 percent from 3-point range during his time at USC.
With point guards D’Angelo Russell, Jose Calderon and Marcelo Huertas, making the Lakers final roster is unlikely for the young guard, but he could himself in the D-League for the Los Angeles D-Fenders and a possible call-up in the near future.
Similar to Jacobs, Travis Wear was also a product of the Pac-12. After playing one season with the North Carolina Tar Heels, Wear, a native of Southern California, returned home to finish his collegiate career at UCLA. In his first season with the Bruins, Wear played 30 games and averaged 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds. He helped the Bruins win the Pac-12 Conference championship.
After another successful season with Bruins, Wear graduated and declared for the 2014 NBA draft, but went undrafted. During the 2014 NBA Summer League, he played for the Atlanta Hawks, but wasn’t picked up by the team afterwards. His performance caught the eye of Knicks president Phil Jackson who said Wear was "overshadowed at UCLA but has the skill set to play every position from 1 to 4."
Despite the co-sign, Wear’s odds of making the team was a longshot. The Knicks already had 15 players with guaranteed contracts, but Wear’s skill set was hard to turn down as the Knicks traded veteran forward Travis Outlaw to open a roster spot to sign Wear.
He played 51 games with the Knicks averaging 3.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. He scored his season-high 21 points in a 120-90 loss to the Houston Rockets on January 8, 2015.
Even with Jackson’s co-sign, Wear wasn’t brought back to New York, making him a free agent. He decided to sign with RETAbet.es GBC in Spain where he averaged 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. With that squad, he showed off his ability to shot the outside jumper shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from 3-point range.
Like Jacobs, Wear is competing for a roster spot in a position that is already deep. With Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and Yi Jianlian, the power forward position is already solidified. But if Wear is good enough for Jackson and the Knicks, maybe he’ll be good enough for new head coach Luke Walton and the Lakers. At 6-foot-10, Wear’s versatility on the outside could benefit the small ball lineup the Walton could execute in Los Angeles. Even if he doesn't make it on the Lakers opening day roster, Wear should still have the opportunity to shine in the D-League or with an overseas squad.