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The Sports Report: Lakers seek undrafted magic, like with Austin Reaves

Austin Reaves
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Dan Woike: Reputations can begin in a lot of places, and a G League tryout is as good a place as any to form one.

It was there that the Lakers spotted David Nwaba, an undrafted player who attended three colleges. They swung a deal to get him added to their developmental team, and before they knew it, he was on the court with the NBA team.

That he didn’t find continued success with the Lakers doesn’t matter. That the team unearthed a player who has now appeared in 237 NBA games — starting 50 of them — seemingly out of thin air, that’s a skill that matters.

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As the Lakers head into transaction season without draft picks or cap space, it’ll again fall on them to make something out of nothing, a significant challenge for any front office.

Fortunately, the Lakers front office — from general manager Rob Pelinka to consultant Kurt Rambis to scouting department folks like Joey and Jesse Buss to personnel director Nick Mazzella — has built a track record of finding role players from non-traditional routes. After hitting a home run with undrafted free agent Austin Reaves a season ago, the Lakers head into this draft season again on the hunt for players who can contribute sooner rather than later.

The combination of potential playing time, a proven developmental track record, access to tremendous star power and as good of a G League living situation in El Segundo as any in the league should push the Lakers to the front of the line for anyone who doesn’t get picked.

The Lakers held their 10th group draft workout on Tuesday, a process that’s shown just how wide of a net they’ve cast. Shareef O’Neal never scored in double figures in college, but with size, skill and top-notch genetics (his dad is Shaquille), what’s the harm in a look?

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CLIPPERS

From Andrew Greif: NBA draft night is Thursday, though in the case of the Clippers it has historically been more precise to describe it as something else.

Trade night.

Each draft since 2015 has involved at least one Clippers transaction, from buying their way into the second round with cash, to swapping first-round picks, trading a future first-round pick to move up, or shipping out established veterans for experienced rotation players. In 2020, a three-team deal netted them Luke Kennard, last year’s most accurate three-point shooter. In 2021, they swung three trades to grab Brandon Boston Jr., Keon Johnson and Jason Preston.

The methods change, as do the front-office decision-makers, but the moves have not.

This year could be the exception.

DODGERS

From Jack Harris: The next stop on this trip is the one Freddie Freeman has been waiting for the most.

On Friday, he will return to Atlanta for the first time since he left the Braves to sign with the Dodgers this offseason.

It is sure to be an emotional homecoming, one complete with a World Series ring presentation and likely plenty of tears from the star first baseman.

And it’s been a moment that, try as he might, has been on his mind for weeks.

“You’re probably gonna see me cry quite a bit on that Friday,” Freeman said last week, looking ahead to the reunion with his former team. “I can’t wait to go back, but I’m almost looking forward to it being over, so I can just try and concentrate on baseball.”

After slumping through the first two weeks of June, the slugger has quickly reemerged as one of the Dodgers hottest hitters, following up a five-RBI outburst on Tuesday with two hits, including a go-ahead home run, on Wednesday in the team’s 8-4 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

ANGELS

From Mike DiGiovanna: Before the Angels’ 5-0 win over Kansas City on Wednesday, Reid Detmers was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake just six weeks after the Angels left-hander threw a no-hitter against Tampa Bay, a demotion that will give the 22-year-old rookie a chance to regain his form in a less stressful environment.

“It’s just a little bit of a reset for him,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said before Wednesday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals. “Look, there’s greatness in there. I’ve said that before.

“There have been a ton of guys that have had to go back down and kind of reset themselves. It’s a learning process, and I think this will be good for him. He’s gonna go down with a good attitude and get better.”

NFL

From Sam Farmer: What does the future hold for Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder?

He handed control of the team to his wife, Tanya, last year — his hiatus is indefinite — and was fined $10 million in the wake of an NFL investigation that found a pattern of sexual harassment in the organization spanning from 2006 to 2019. The league inquiry stemmed from a Washington Post investigation of the franchise.

Snyder was invited to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform but declined, saying he had business out of the country. The committee chairperson, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, said she planned to issue a subpoena to compel a deposition from Snyder next week.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell testified virtually before Congress on Wednesday, telling the committee that he has “not seen a workplace in the NFL that is anywhere near what we saw in the context of that period of time for the Washington Commanders.”

Goodell also said Snyder has been held accountable and that he, as commissioner, doesn’t have the authority to remove Snyder as an owner. The only way an owner can be removed is by a three-quarters majority vote by fellow owners.

————

NFL wants Brian Flores racial discrimination lawsuit to go to arbitration

Tony Siragusa, standout defensive lineman and sideline reporter, dies at 55

WNBA

Brittney Griner will have a place at the WNBA All-Star game, being named an honorary starter Wednesday by Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson received the most votes from fans and were selected as co-captains for the event. They will be joined by Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles, who both have announced they will retire at the end of the season. Bird will set a record with her 13th All-Star appearance. Fowles, who is injured right now, was selected for her eighth game.

Stewart and Fowles will be paired up as co-captains, as will Wilson and Bird, and will choose their teams.

Joining Wilson, Stewart and Fowles in the frontcourt are Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones, the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike and Chicago’s Candace Parker. The starting guards, in addition to Bird, are New York’s Sabrina Ionescu and Las Vegas teammates Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young.

OUR OTHER SPORTS NEWSLETTERS

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NHL PLAYOFFS

STANLEY CUP FINALS
All times Pacific
All games on ABC

Colorado vs. Tampa Bay
Colorado 4, Tampa Bay 3 (OT)
Colorado 7, Tampa Bay 0
Tampa Bay 6, Colorado 2
Colorado 3, Tampa Bay 2 (OT)
Friday at Colorado, 5 p.m.
*Sunday at Tampa Bay, 5 p.m.
*Tuesday, June 28 at Colorado, 5 p.m.

*-if necessary

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1917 — In baseball’s greatest relief effort, Ernie Shore of the Boston Red Sox retires 26 batters for a 4-0 victory over Washington. Shore relieves Babe Ruth with nobody out and a man on first, who was cut down stealing.

1917 — Molla Bjurstedt win the women’s U.S. Lawn Tennis Association title for the third straight year with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Marion Vanderhoef.

1922 — Walter Hagen becomes the first native-born American to win the British Open. Hagen shoots a 300 to beat Jim Barness and George Duncan by one stroke at Royal St. George’s Golf Club.

1939 — Former football great Bronko Nagurski beats Lou Thesz to win the National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title in at the Coliseum in Houston. Thesz was largely considered the greatest wrestler of all time. Houston Mayor Holcombe reportedly presents Bronko with a $10,000 diamond studded belt.

1963 — Julius Boros wins a three-way playoff to take the U.S. Open. Boros beats Jacky Cupit by three strokes and Arnold Palmer by six.

1972 — President Nixon signs the Higher Education Act of 1972. Title IX of this congressional act bars sex bias in athletics and other activities at colleges receiving federal assistance.

1974 — Sandra Haynie wins the LPGA championship by two strokes over JoAnne Carner.

1985 — Laffit Pincay Jr. rides Greinton to a 1 3/4-length victory over Precisionist in the Hollywood Gold Cup, to join Willie Shoemaker as the only jockeys in history to surpass $100 million in purse earnings.

1991 — A Mazda becomes the first Japanese car to win the Le Mans 24 hours race, overtaking a Mercedes in the last three hours. Bertrand Gachot of Belgium, Johnny Herbert of Britain and Volker Weidler of Germany are the winning drivers of the rotary-powered Mazda.

1996 — Michael Johnson breaks the world record in the 200 meters, running 19.66 seconds at the U.S. track and field trials in Atlanta. The previous mark of 19.72 was set by Italy’s Pietro Mennea in 1979 in Mexico City.

1999 — The Hockey Hall of Fame waives the usual three-year waiting period and announces that Wayne Gretzky will be part of the Class of 1999.

2001 — Ilya Kovalchuk is the first player born in Russia to be taken with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft when he’s selected by the Atlanta Thrashers.

2005 — Tim Duncan comes up huge in the second half and is chosen finals MVP and Manu Ginobili has another breakthrough performance to lead the San Antonio Spurs past the Detroit Pistons 81-74 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

2013 — Courtney Force claims a Funny Car victory against her father at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals. In their first final round matchup, Courtney Force earns her second victory of the year and third in her career. She improves to 4-2 against her father, John Force, a 15-time Funny Car world champion.

2015 — The NHL’s Board of Governors approve the proposed 3-on-3 overtime change.

2016 — LSU point guard Ben Simmons is the first pick in the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Michael Johnson sets the world record in the 200 meters. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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