Two elements remain headscratching during this tumultuous Lakers’ season.
The Lakers’ revolving door of injury updates never has slowed down. No scenario has opened up for Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni to play Chris Kaman, who has curiously sat on the bench despite becoming the Lakers’ consolation prize this offseason shortly after Dwight Howard departed for Houston.
Even with Pau Gasol nursing a strained left groin that will keep him out for at least a week, D’ANtoni remained noncommittal whether Kaman will start or even play at all. Kaman received an MRI on his sore right foot and practiced Sunday without any setbacks. But D’Antoni said Kaman’s seldom-used playing time has had little to do with his injury.
“That’s part of it,” D’Antoni said. “Obviously that makes the decision easy. We’re trying to figure out ways to get better. We havent’ gotten there yet.”
Kaman has occasionally lamented his lack of playing time after signing last offseason to a one-year, $3.2 million deal. But Kaman declined to speak to reporters on Sunday and hasn’t played since appearing for six minutes Jan. 17 against Boston.
Kaman has mostly sat on the bench this season because of D’Antoni’s preference for a smaller lineup and his belief that Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly are superior defenders. But Kaman has averaged 11.8 points on 46.4-percent shooting and 9.2 rebounds through 24.2 minutes in five games as a starter, two of which coincided with Gasol sitting out because of an upper respiratory infection.
Gasol has averaged 20.8 points on 51-percent shooting and 11.9 rebounds through 15 games in January, leaving a serious void for the Lakers to pick up secondary scoring. But that role could fall to Sacre or Hill instead.
“He’s been trying to battle through it and couldn’t do it,” D’Antoni said of Gasol. “When you have the toe, that’s the thing that happens. You run wrong and different things pop up. That’s what happens. It’s one more thing we have to take care of. But we can play better than what we’re playing.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org