Monday could be Los Angeles native and former University High School alumni David Nwaba's final day with the Los Angeles Lakers, the team the West LA kid grew up cheering for.
Nwaba’s fairy tale story of being an undrafted guard that went from trying out to play in Europe to getting a special invite to an NBA Development League tryout to eventually landing on the Lakers has lasted 20 long NBA days that passed in a blue. Nwaba's second 10-day contract expires on Monday, which means the team now faces the choice of signing the 24-year-old guard that specializes in defense and throwing down monster dunks for the remainder of the season or opening a roster spot to bring in a new player on a 10-day contract.
NBA rules only allow two 10-day contracts per player before the team is forced to make a decision, so Sunday may well have been the former Santa Monica College Corsair's final game.
Only, Nwaba didn't know that fact until Sunday night after the Lakers had already lost 125-120 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Asked about it after the game, the guard told NBCLA.com that he had been told that he still had one more game with the team on Tuesday. After NBCLA.com counted the days and relayed the information, Nwaba paused and had a genuinely look of shock. He may never be back in the locker room where he stood following a nationally televised game against the world champions.
"Wow," Nwaba attempted to grasp the reality that Monday's practice did not guarantee a game on Tuesday. Asked if he had spoken with the team, he mumbled, "They haven't talked to me about it."
Nwaba said that he had not pushed to talk with the team, either, but he seemingly understood a choice was at hand. Three and a half weeks remain in the Lakers' season, so LA could theoretically bring in a new player and try him out for two complete 10-day contracts before the end of the season. The financial obligation is not an issue as much as the team must decide if it wants to further integrate the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate into the squad with a view to the NBA Summer League and a training camp invite or if another player worth trying out is on its radar.
"I know," a rather conflicted Luke Walton said when NBCLA.com mentioned that Nwaba's second 10-day contract expired on Monday. The cameras were off and his post game interview was over, but Walton seemed a bit stressed when NBCLA.com brought up the topic Sunday night. "He's been playing well."
Wearing the difficult decision with the expression on his face, NBCLA.com asked Walton if the team had figured out what was next with regards to Nwaba: "No, we have not."
Back in front of the locker that read "Nwaba," the last player in the Lakers' locker room had completed his interview obligations for the night before he figured out Monday was the only guarantee he had with the Lakers.
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"I definitely hope to stick around and just get the NBA experience, but if not, get back to the D-League, keep working hard, keep working on my game and see where that goes," Nwaba said.
He added, "It's been a great experience, just helping me build confidence and knowing I can play at this level. I just feel good out there and just hope they give me another opportunity to build and just grow as a player."
Almost poetically, the Lakers will likely make a decision on the LA-native ahead of Tuesday's city rivalry game against the LA Clippers.