Derek Fisher says he can keep playing extended minutes for as long as the team needs him to. Sasha Vujacic says he loves playing point guard, even though his role on the team is as a shooter.
Right now, that’s how the Lakers have been coping with the knee injury to backup Jordan Farmar that’s expected to keep him out for up to eight weeks.
Over the weekend though, general manager Mitch Kupchak said that the Lakers’ brain trust will “reconvene” preliminary discussions on whether they need to bring in additional help.
“I can’t put a percentage on it,” Kupchak said. “But I don’t think we’re looking for a practice player. If we’re going to sign someone, it has to be a player we feel we can put in the game. If we can’t find that player, we should probably do nothing.”
With Farmar out, the Lakers have two players with the ability to facilitate the triangle offense: Lamar Odom and Vujacic. They also have rookie Sun Yue, but he’s made exactly one official appearance in an NBA regular season game and is considered a long-range project.
Kupchak declined to comment on which players the Lakers would look at, if they were to decide to add another point guard, but it’s a fair assumption that familiarity with the Lakers’ system would be a plus for any candidate.
Kupchak added that the team is mostly concerned by losing Farmar at the defensive end of the court.
“I think from an offensive point of view, we have players that can facilitate the offense,” he said. “From a defensive perspective, we have to look at it and say, `Can we adequately defend the small guards in this league with only one small guard on our roster in Derek Fisher?’ ”
The Lakers currently have 14 players on the roster, meaning they have one available roster spot. Would they want to commit that to a point guard for the rest of the season with Farmar due back around the All Star break in mid-February?
Teams can sign players to 10-day contracts beginning Jan. 5, but Kupchak said that date has no relevance to the discussion because the team could also sign a player to a non-guaranteed contract at any point.
Of course, if the current situation works out well, with Fisher playing longer minutes, Vujacic and/or Odom handling the rest of the ball-handling duties, and Trevor Ariza stepping in to defend some of the quicker point guards in the league as he did Tuesday night in New Orleans against Chris Paul, the Lakers could just end up standing pat and waiting for Farmar to return.
“The more you play, you may get comfortable with the players you have,” Kupchak admitted.