The Los Angeles Lakers are progressing toward a two-way deal with free agent and former No. 15 overall pick Sekou Doumbouya, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The Lakers have a two-way spot available because one of the two players they initially signed to a two-way contract, undrafted rookie Austin Reaves, was given a standard NBA contract and will be part of the team's NBA roster all season.
Doumbouya was initially selected No. 15 overall by the Detroit Pistons in 2019, but struggled to find any footing there. He averaged 5.6 points in 17.3 minutes per game across his first two seasons as a professional, but was a casualty of new general manager Troy Weaver's sweeping rebuild of Detroit's roster. Doumbouya has now been traded twice this offseason. Initially, he was part of the package that Detroit sent to Brooklyn as part of the DeAndre Jordan trade to help the Nets save salary. The Nets turned around and dealt him to Detroit to save even more money, and the Rockets waived him after that.
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But the Lakers sorely need another body at the forward position. Their roster was heavily tilted toward guards even before the preseason began, with eight of their 14 roster spots going to players who would be classified as guards. With Jordan and Dwight Howard at center, the only forwards on the team are Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Trevor Ariza and Carmelo Anthony. Ariza is set to miss eight weeks due to an ankle injury, and both James and Anthony are in their mid-30s. With Davis playing at least some of his minutes at center, the Lakers needed to get another forward in the system that they could potentially use as they weather early-season injuries.
Doumbouya will likely now have a chance to earn some minutes for the Lakers as they deal with the absences of Ariza (ankle) and Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb). Their developmental system with the South Bay Lakers has largely been successful at finding diamonds in the rough, with Alex Caruso serving as a prime example of how they've used two-way players in the past. Doumbouya, as a former high first-round pick, is more decorated than most of the players the Lakers have developed this way, and that will hopefully lead to more immediate contributions at the NBA level.