The Lakers sent Derek Fisher home from practice today because of a sinus illness. His participation in Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns wasn’t clear, but when asked if he expected Fisher to play, coach Mike Brown said, “I think so, but I don’t know.”
The 37-year-old Fisher has played in 524 consecutive regular-season games, including 402 straight starts, the longest active streaks in the NBA. He hasn’t missed a game since the 2004-05 season while with the Golden State Warriors.
Fisher played only 18 minutes, 34 seconds in the Lakers’ victory Tuesday over the Hawks, scoring three points on 1-for-4 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. He hasn’t played more than 19 minutes in either of the last two games.
Steve Blake could be asked to play even bigger minutes than the 29:26 he played during Tuesday’s game. Blake scored only five points on 2-for-5 shooting, but also had a team-leading six assists plus three rebounds.
The Lakers moved one step closer to solidifying their rotation when they assigned backup small forward Devin Ebanks to the D-Fenders of the D-League. Ebanks started the season’s first four games, but only appeared in eight other games as Lakers coach Mike Brown decided to go first with Matt Barnes and then Metta World Peace as his starter.
The moves comes a week after the Lakers waived backup power forward Derrick Caracter in a move to open a roster spot and also save the on payroll. Caracter’s contract of roughly $750,000 would have become guaranteed had he been on the roster as of last Friday. The Lakers expect Ebanks to make his D-Fenders debut Saturday.
Metta World Peace expressed concerns the other day about Lakers coach Mike Brown’s shuffling of the rotation. World Peace said more consistency would help him and the team play better and win more games.
After all, Brown used first Devin Ebanks then Matt Barnes then World Peace (the former Ron Artest) as the Lakers’ starting small forward so far this season. Brown said he has settled on World Peace as his starter.
World Peace also said Brown relies too much on statistics to determine his rotation.
In an attempt to ensure they are on the same page, Brown met with World Peace at the Lakers’ morning shootaround Tuesday. They talked and cleared the air and the player and the coach each said everything was fine.
“The main thing is just winning,” World Peace said before the Lakers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 86-78. “The main thing here is everybody wants to win. That’s a good sign. I was not frustrated. It was not frustration. I was just looking for consistency.”
Brown, in his first season as the Lakers’ coach, said he understood World Peace’s concerns. He also reserved the right to make decisions, change his mind and do all he believed to be right in order to make sure the Lakers are best prepared to play.
“I’m not afraid to make a change,” Brown said. “I’m the coach. I make the decisions. I’ll make a change if I feel I need to. I talked not just to him but a lot of guys on the team because I have changed the minutes.
“God bless anybody who has walked into a new situation and after two games figures out what rotation he wants to have for the rest of the year. … If I were a stats guy, Metta wouldn’t be playing at all. If I were him, I would be frustrated.”
The Lakers attended a private workout held by free agent guard Gilbert Arenas, according to a report on Yahoo! Sports. The team has expressed some interest in signing Arenas, a former Grant High of Van Nuys standout. Kobe Bryant said last week he was on board with adding Arenas, who played last season with the Orlando Magic.
The website, citing two unnamed sources, reported that Arenas moved well during the workout. Members of the Lakers coaching staff were in Toronto with the team and didn’t attend the workout, which was held in Southern California. It was unclear whether general manager Mitch Kupchak was at the workout.
The Lakers have struggled at the point guard position so far this season. Veterans Derek Fisher and Steve Blake, his backup, were run ragged by Jeremy Lin in a loss Friday to the New York Knicks and by Jose Calderon during a victory Sunday over the Toronto Raptors. Lin had 38 points and Calderon scored 30.
Coach Mike Brown revealed the Lakers considered signing Jeremy Lin during the lockout. Brown recalled general manager Mitch Kupchak mentioned his name, and quite a few others, as a player the team could sign to bolster its backcourt.
He had heard the name. Most NBA coaches know most of the players around the league, even if they might have trouble assessing strengths and weaknesses of some of the younger ones like Lin, who ended up signing with the New York Knicks.
“When he was floating out there, Mitch had some interest in him and brought him up to me,” Brown said. “We brought up a million names. This was before we had our team. Mitch liked him, but I didn’t know anything about him.”
Kobe Bryant’s legacy as one of the game’s greatest players is secure, according to Lakers coach Mike Brown. Bryant passed Shaquille O’Neal and moved into fifth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list Monday, sparking a flurry of questions about Bryant’s place in history. Brown said Bryant rises above many of the game’s newest crop of superstars because he’s played for five NBA championship teams with the Lakers.
Brown gave a nuanced answer when asked if Bryant had won a battle to be the best in his day, topping LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and others of the younger generation.
“When you look at championship rings, the guys who have multiple rings are the ones who should be mentioned when you’re talking about people’s legacies. They should be mentioned first because there are a lot of great players out there that I believe can put up great numbers and do great things, especially on a team when you don’t win, it’s a different type of pressure you go through.
“When you have five of them and have the possibility of getting more, or six or seven or eight, it’s like, ‘Whoa.’ That right there separates you or puts you in a different category. If you’re talking about pure talent alone, yeah, there are other guys out there who have a high talent level. But are they to the level of Kobe’s? In different aspects of the game.
“You talk about who’s a more talented passer between LeBron and Kobe, well, LeBron is. Who’s a more talented mid-range scorer, well, Kobe is. Who’s a better attacker, Dwyane Wade is. So they all do different things different than each other, but at the end of the day, when it comes to combining talent and skill with the most important thing, which is winning, I don’t know how you don’t give him the edge.”
Steve Blake stuck to the company line, but a wide smile gave him away. He was cleared to resume practicing with the Lakers today and, officially at least, his status for Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics will be determined at tipoff.
Asked if he was going to play, he said, “It’s a game-time decision.”
Blake’s grin said something else, like, “The answer is, yes. Of course, I’m playing.”
Sidelined since Jan. 11 by a rib/sternum injury, Blake’s absence as the Lakers’ only veteran backup to point guard Derek Fisher was dramatic. A pair of rookies, Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris, has served as Fisher’s backup for the last three weeks.
Blake is averaging 7.3 points and 2.8 assists in 12 games.
Lakers coach Mike Brown said Blake “isn’t Chris Paul, but for us he’s a valuable piece.”
The Lakers announced today they have waived power forward Derrick Caracter, reducing their roster from the maximum 15 players to 14. It’s possible they could sign free agent point guard Gilbert Arenas or trade for Cleveland guard Ramon Sessions. Or perhaps there’s another move to be made that will strengthen the roster.
Kobe Bryant said Monday he believed the team as constructed was strong enough to be a championship contender by season’s end. He also acknowledged the team’s margin for error was zero. Lakers coach Mike Brown agreed with Bryant on both counts.
The Lakers took the day off today, but will practice Wednesday in Boston.
Caracter played four games for the Lakers’ developmental team, the D-Fenders, and averaged 15.5 points and 7.5 blocks. He had little chance of earning playing time with the Lakers, particularly after suffering a knee injury during training camp.
Caracter wrote on Twitter: “On to the next chapter in my Life. It’s over before it begun … But plan doesn’t change … peace Cali.”
Kobe Bryant said Monday he believes the Lakers have the makings of a championship contender. A trade isn’t necessary to transform them from ordinary to something special if they play to or above their potential the rest of the way.
“We can (contend),” Bryant said. “We have to play very solid, near-perfect basketball, particularly with our second unit, which we have in the past. We’re capable of contending. Our margin is just not as great as some of the other teams.”
Lakers coach Mike Brown agreed.
“That’s Mitch’s job, to continue to find ways to improve the team,” Brown said, referring to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. “His track record speaks for itself. He’s more than capable of doing that. Having said that, if we don’t do anything to this team, I’m excited about this roster.
“I think this roster can contend for a championship. I do agree with what Kobe says. We’re an injury away, like we are now, from having to rely on rookies to help get us through and that’s a tough situation when you start talking about championships.
“But, with other guys around them (rookie guards Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris), I do feel we’re capable of accomplishing that goal, yes.”
Andrew Bynum was voted the starting center for the Western Conference All-Star team for the first time, joining Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, plus Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Blake Griffin and Chris Paul of the Clippers.
The game is Feb. 26 in Orlando.
“I always wanted to be an All-Star,” Bynum said. “I said that six years ago. It took a long time. There was kind of some attrition there, no Yao (Ming) … (but) for me, it feels good. At least this year, I’m kind of putting up the numbers that qualified me for it.”
Indeed, Yao’s retirement left the position vacant.
Bynum stated his case effectively to the voting masses by averaging 16.5 points on 54.8 percent shooting and 12.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots in 18 games going into tonight’s contest against the Nuggets in Denver.
If he continues at his current pace, the 24-year-old 7-footer will set career highs for scoring and rebounding averages by season’s end. His career averages of 10.8 points on 56.7 percent shooting, 7.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks are modest at best.