LAS VEGAS -- This isn't Chris Douglas-Roberts' first time trying to earn his way onto the Los Angeles Lakers' roster. He made it as far as the Lakers' preseason roster last summer but ultimately did not make the team. He would go on to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, where he played only six games for a total of 63 minutes.
He still talks to Kobe Bryant though, who he spoke glowingly of after the Lakers 77-65 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Monday. You could hear a flicker of excitement when he spoke of the Lakers' superstar.
"I talked to Kobe when I was in L.A. Kobe is great to me. He's a great mentor. He told me he's three months ahead of schedule, which is very Kobe-like. The biggest thing I get from Kobe is honesty. I really respect that, and he respects that from me," Douglas-Roberts told media when asked if he is still in contact with Bryant.
His first two games were forgettable for Douglas-Roberts, who tweaked his ankle in the first game of the circuit.
"I had a slow start. A very slow start. Unfortunately, I kinda sprained my ankle in the first game and the second game I was feeling it. It was still sore. I had a great day off and we had great treatment. I feel good out there," he said regarding his disappointing start to summer league.
Douglas-Roberts finished the Lakers' game on Monday with 12 points on three-of-five shooting, four assists and two rebounds. He was noticeably asserting himself and stood out from the crowd for the first time this summer.
"Summer league people expect big numbers. It's hard. You have to play everybody. The game is much slower. The quarters are ten minutes. You're not going to have guys getting 30. I had to switch my game up a little bit and kind of handle and play some point forward," Douglas-Roberts said of his best performance of summer league thus far.
Douglas-Roberts is entering the sixth year of his NBA career. He was drafted by the New Jersey Nets with pick No. 40 in the 2008 NBA Draft. Now 26 and experienced in the league, he considers himself a veteran leader for a pack of players who are fighting for a chance to make a roster.
"Everybody is hungry, everybody is playing hard. I'm the veteran to this group. I'm just trying to do my part. If I see guys kinda down, that's natural as a basketball player. I pick them up a little bit," Douglas-Roberts said when asked about the comradery in a group filled with players competing both for and against each other.
He isn't trying to wow scouts with an expanded game or by trying new things on the basketball courts. Douglas-Roberts wants to do what he's best at to find his way beyond summer league.
"First and foremost you want to play well," Douglas-Roberts said to a chorus of laughter, including his own which he couldn't hold back. "I wouldn't go out there and try to work on things or do things I'm uncomfortable doing. You want to go out there and play well. You have to play to your strengths. You're trying to impress people. You're trying to earn a spot."
Douglas-Roberts will take another shot at earning his spot with the Lakers once again. The 26-year-old swingman is hoping to impress Mitch Kupchak, Mike D'Antoni and Jim Buss, who have all been in attendance at Las Vegas Summer League. If he expands on the level of play he displayed on Monday, there are a slew of other team officials watching and ready to pounce on the next diamond to poke out of the rough.