Once the Lakers take the court in their first exhibition game, they won’t resemble anything near last season’s star studded team that flushed away a $100 million payroll toward a first-round exit.
Dwight Howard left this offseason via free agency for the Houston Rockets. The Lakers waived Metta World Peace in a cost-cutting measure. Kobe Bryant is currently in Germany undergoing a procedure on his right knee, while also rehabbing his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon. And both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash will probably sit out of the Lakers’ preseason opener Saturday against the Golden State Warriors in Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena.
In their place, D’Antoni said the Lakers’ starting lineup will likely feature Steve Blake (point guard), Nick Young (shooting guard), Wesley Johnson (small forward), Jordan Hill (power forward) and Chris Kaman (center).
Both Gasol and Nash have said they’ve fully healed from their respective knee and hamstring issues. But Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni wants to sit them out because the Lakers also play Sunday against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.
“He’s obviously going to err on the side of being conservative,” Nash said following practice Friday at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “It’s early in the year and obviously, the kind of year I had last year, I was continually fighting something so he just wants to be cautious.”
D’Antoni had also floated the idea that Nash would sit during certain back-to-back regular season games, but that hasn’t been fully ironed out.
“We don’t know,” D’Antoni said. “We’re going to look at it and we’ll see, but that’s definitely an option.”
Gasol, 33, said that he will not be sitting out back-to-backs during the regular season, however.
“Hopefully not,” Gasol said. “That’s not the plan. Hopefully there’s no restrictions going into the season. There’s no point playing in a back-to-back the first two games [of the preseason].”
Young missed Thursday’s practice because of a sprained right ankle, but he participated in Friday’s session that D’Antoni said involved no contact drills. Meanwhile, D’Antoni said Blake has initially beat out Jordan Farmar.
“Steve Blake deserves to start. He was here last year and was playing great,” D’Antoni said. “That’s how he was in the lineup. There’s no reason to change it.”
Both Gasol and Nash have paced their way through training camp, including sitting out portions of practice when the Lakers had double practice sessions Sunday and Tuesday. Nash described himself as “good,” but has often missed the tail end of practices to conserve energy.
“A few bumps and bruises, but the sinister stuff is all kind of under control and behind me,” Nash said. “So I feel pretty positive.
Meanwhile, Gasol reports he has increased his jumping during drills and has exceeded his expectations with the pace of his recovery following a procedure this offseason to treat his knee tendinosis.
“Big difference so far. It’s been just one week of training camp,” Gasol said. “I haven’t tested it fully yet. I haven’t done many explosive moves out there yet. But so far it’s been good. I’ve been progressing. It’s not out of control. It’s been good.”
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