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Sports >  NCAA basketball

Lakers waive former Gonzaga standout Joel Ayayi

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 15, 2021

Los Angeles guard Joel Ayayi defends Phoenix guard Cameron Payne (15) during an Oct. 6 preseason game.  (Associated Press)
Los Angeles guard Joel Ayayi defends Phoenix guard Cameron Payne (15) during an Oct. 6 preseason game. (Associated Press)

The Los Angeles Lakers waived former Gonzaga standout Joel Ayayi four days before Tuesday’s season opener against Golden State.

Ayayi was the biggest name among four players waived Friday because he had agreed to a two-way contract with the Lakers shortly after the NBA Draft in July. The Lakers added Sekou Doumbouya earlier this week on a two-way deal, which allows the 2019 first-round pick to split time between the Lakers and G-League South Bay.

Ayayi’s departure leaves Los Angeles with one available two-way contract. Austin Reeves’ two-way contract was converted into a standard NBA contract.

Ayayi, 21, struggled in seven NBA summer league games and five preseason games. The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 21.7 minutes in summer league. He shot 40.6% from the field, including just 2 of 13 on 3-pointers.

He finished with just two points in 46 preseason minutes. He made 1 of 10 field-goal attempts. He had four rebounds and an assist in three minutes in the Lakers’ loss to Sacramento on Thursday. 

Ayayi’s next move isn’t immediately clear. The native of France could have other NBA options or wind up with South Bay. He’d probably draw strong interest from professional teams overseas.

After redshirting as a skinny 17-year-old freshman at Gonzaga and then seeing limited minutes in the 2018-19 season, Ayayi became a major contributor in his final two seasons as the Zags compiled a 62-3 record.

The versatile Ayayi moved into the starting lineup early in his sophomore season and went on to average 10.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals.

Ayayi was even better last season as a junior, finishing at 12.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He made 68.3% of his 2-point attempts and 38.9% beyond the 3-point arc. He had 12 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists against Portland, believed to be the first triple-double in program history.

Ayayi was first-team All-WCC last season and one of five finalists for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award.

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