The flurry of activity surrounding free agency doesn’t officially begin until 9 p.m. Saturday, but the Lakers are already bracing for it.
They extended a qualifying offer to forward Devin Ebanks, making him a restricted free agent. Although he’s free to sign with any team, the Lakers have the right to match any offer he receives from another team.
In recent weeks, Ebanks’ agent, David Bauman, has sent what he called a “Matrix” to a number of unspecified teams around the league, including the Lakers, outlining various statistics he believes illustrates how Ebanks contributed when given the chance to play.
Ebanks averaged four points on 41.6% shooting from the field and 2.3 rebounds in 16.5 minutes in the regular season, but showed some growth signs during unexpected promotions. Ebanks started at shooting guard for seven games in April while Kobe Bryant sat out with a left shin injury, averaging 6.14 points on 48.71% shooting in 25.2 minutes a game. On April 22 against Oklahoma City, Ebanks suddenly entered the game after Metta World Peace earned an ejection for elbowing James Harden and Matt Barnes sprained his right ankle. Ebanks made two steals in the final minute of the second ovetime while holding Kevin Durant to five-of-19 shooting when he played the entire fourth quarter and subsequent overtimes. Ebanks also started at small forward during World Peace’s seven-game suspension, scoring in double digits in three of those contests.
The Lakers have praised the lanky and athletic Ebanks for his work ethic, defense and unassuming personality in his second season with the Lakers. But his playing time came in spurts. He started four games to open the season only to disappear down the depth chart behind World Peace and Barnes. From Jan. 3 to April 6, Ebanks played a combined five minutes through 34 games. He even appeared in three games for the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate.
Bauman has tabbed signing Ebanks to a multi-year deal at either two or three years with the Lakers as his top priority. Though he conceded “no one is looking at Devin as a starter,” Bauman remains open to helping Ebanks pursue other teams should his opportunities remain limited with the Lakers.
“He’s the Lakers’ to lose,” Bauman said. “If they want to sign him, they can sign him. ... Each year the Lakers can’t make big trades because they don’t have the assets, someone like Devin becomes more important.”
The Lakers also announced they extended a qualifying offer to Lakers rookie guard Darius Morris, a revenlation The Times’ Mike Bresnahan reported on Wednesday to be worth about $940,000.