Michigan’s Zavier Simpson signs with NBA Lakers champion


Zavier Simpson, the winningest player in Michigan basketball history, is heading to the reigning NBA champion.

Undrafted in Wednesday’s NBA Draft, the former Michigan point guard signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent Brian Jungreis told MLive.

Jungreis said Simpson signed a Exhibit 10 contract, which means this is a training camp deal.

“We thought they were a good choice because they showed the most general and immediate interest in him and felt it gave him the most opportunities,” Jungreis said.

“(The Lakers) have done a great job of development and turned the guys in that position into NBA roster players and two-way players within their organization and others.

The Lakers had four point guards on their roster last season, not counting Finals MVP LeBron James, who often held the position: Avery Bradley, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook and Rajon Rondo. Rondo is an unrestricted free agent; Bradley has a player option for 2020-21. Los Angeles recently acquired point guard Dennis Schroder through trade.

The 6-footer Simpson was third in the nation in assists last season at 7.9 per game. The Lima, Ohio senior also averaged 12.9 points per game. He’s a creative facilitator who excels at ball screens and offers a range of clever finishes around the basket. His leadership and tenacity are indisputable; his exterior shot is suspect.

The Lakers posted the Western Conference’s best record in the shortened regular season and beat the Miami Heat in six games to win the 17th franchise championship.

Los Angeles general manager Rob Pelinka played for Michigan from 1988 to 1993. Pelinka drafted Moe Wagner from Michigan in the first round in 2018. Wagner was traded to Washington before last season.

That Simpson was not drafted – ending a four-year period in which a wolverine has been selected – was not a surprise. His former Michigan classmate, center Jon Teske, was also not selected among the 60 picks. It is not yet known if Teske has signed with a team.

The Lakers had just one draft pick this year, No. 28 overall, and picked Washington forward Jaden McDaniels, a cousin of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard.

With the absence of the Summer League this year, Simpson will have to prove his worth during preseason training camp.

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