Mike D’Antoni still skeptical whether Chris Kaman will have a bigger role

The Los Angeles Lakers host the Chicago Bulls in a NBA basketball game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. on Sunday, February 10, 2014. (Photo by Sean Hiller/ Daily Breeze).

The Los Angeles Lakers host the Chicago Bulls in a NBA basketball game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. on Sunday, February 10, 2014. (Photo by Sean Hiller/ Daily Breeze).

The process took about seven months to happen. But Chris Kaman finally had a week with the Lakers that didn’t solely entail sitting on the bench.

In the Lakers’ 92-86 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center, Kaman dropped 27 points and 10 rebounds, making a flurry of mid-range shots and operating in the post. The same thing happened in the Lakers’ 2-1 trip last week where he cracked double digits in two of those performances. Yet, even with Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni calling Kaman “a very good offensive player” and praising his effort on defense, it hardly sounded promising whether this will actually enhance his long-term role.

Assuming Pau Gasol returns from a strained right groin after the All-Star break and isn’t traded before the Feb. 20 deadline, Kaman’s playing time will decrease once again.

“It’s the structure of the team,” D’Antoni said. “When Pau comes back, it’s tough. Get ready to write a nice article and kill me. Whatever you want to do.”

D’Antoni’s been killed with that question all season. Same with Kaman. The Lakers acquired him this offseason worth $3.2 million as a decent consolation prize after losing the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Even with the Lakers suffering defensively without Howard, they raved that Kaman’s versatile skillset could make a better fit with Gasol than Howard’s limited post presence ever provided.

Yet, such a pairing reached nothing more than a lineup experiment for a few preseason games.

“Everybody tries to be positive. I want to be professional about it. It wasn’t what I anticipated coming here,” Kaman said. “Obviously I thought I had an opportunity to play more minutes with Pau. But history shows with Coach D’Antoni’s style, it’s a small guy’s game, I suffer as a result of that. It is what it is. I can’t argue what he’s saying. I have to trust the position of head coach. It’s obviously frustrating at times, especially when you’re losing a lot like that and we had a stretch where it’s tough to sit there and watch knowing I could help or provide an effort to get a change of momentum.”

Kaman provided plenty of that against Chicago. In fact, Kaman has provided a pretty dependable effort anytime he’s actually received significant playing time. Kaman has posted in double-digit efforts in 11 of the 27 games he’s received playing time. Even on days he’s not expected to play much, Kaman still remains pretty active in private workouts with Lakers development coaches Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis.

“The whole season has been a frustrating year for me personally,” Kaman said. “Guys are frustrated as well. It’s been so up and down and inconsistent. Part of that is having injuries. Part of that is a lot of guys are on one year deals not knowing what they want to do and not knowing where they’re supposed to be. The more time we have together as a unit out there, the better it is. But with guys getting hurt and guys being in and out, it’s not easy.”

It hasn’t been easy for Kaman, whose dwindling playing time has mostly reflected D’Antoni’s belief that Robert Sacre bodes better on defense and that Ryan Kelly helps the Lakers’ offense better with floor spacing.

“You guys can check my track record. I’ve been pretty successful in a lot of different areas,” Kaman said. “I think I can play. It’s just hard to show what you can do in five, six, seven and 10 minutes. Sometimes it’s not a good way to analyze a player.”

Kaman has averaged 9.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17.3 minutes, a dropoff from the career 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds he posted in 28.2 minutes in his 11-year career. Kaman also had high numbers last season in Dallas (10.5 points, 5.6 rebounds) and New Orleans in 2011-12 (13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds) despite a more diminished role than his eight-year career with the Clippers. There, Kaman averaged 11.9 points on 48.7 percent shooting and 8.3 rebounds, including a career 18.5 points and 9.6 rebounds that led to his lone All-Star appearance in 2010.

“Chris was not in the rotation not because of what he did. He’s been playing well,” D’Antoni said. “Chris Kaman’s a very good basketball player, so we’ll try to work it out and try to figure it out somehow.”


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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  • jeff

    This is what’s gonna get him gored end of season. His unwillingness to change. Play a big lineup.

    • Daryl Peek

      A big line up (twin towers) is not the answer. But starting Sacre over Kaman is ridiculous. Kaman should also be Pau’s back up.

  • jeff

    Fired notgored

  • Anthony Mohr

    Kaman continues to play good minutes and he still isn’t starting am I missing something.

  • Trevor Syers

    D’antoni is a idiot straight and to the point

    • hookedonnews

      So you think Kaman should start instead of Gasol?

      • Trevor Syers

        I don’t think he should start ahead of Gasol but backing him up and not on the bench

        • hookedonnews

          I think that’s reasonable. I heard MDA interviewed once, and he indicated that Kaman didn’t want to play limited minutes. He wants to start with Gasol and that’s not going to happen. I think Kaman was brought in with the idea of him being the back-up center. He basically lost his spot in the rotation when he was injured and hasn’t been able to get it back until Pau went out. Doubt that Pau can stay healthy the rest of the season so Kaman will probably be in there from time to time.

  • Dantoni’s <70 IQ

    Typical stupid and stubborn minded dantoni won’t change his lineup with kaman or hill because people know dantonidiot for his “small ball”. Change his game then he has nothing to be known for. Aka dantonidiot thinking his hipster ways are successful. Pfft ok what are the lakers now 10-30?

  • APrince66

    f’n Dantoni doesnt know how to coach and change with the pieces he has. ffs. The guy is so one dimensional.
    He is more suitable for a Junior High team where everyone has young legs, is short and have no interest or attention span to learn defense.

  • sicktiredth

    Of course he’s skeptical, how else would a clueless, ignorant, loser/losing wannabe basketball coach behave?

  • John

    Hill and Kaman not getting playing time has been a bad joke all year. I think the Lakers, even despite injury, would be doing better if they were playing the most talented players the most minutes. However, this has worked out in some ways. Maybe the Lakers would have 3 or 4 more wins this year, and would alter their draft lottery chances.

    In general though, Dantoni doesn’t know what he’s doing. He has some great offensive set plays, but beyond that he’s not seeing the whole picture. Using a “stretch 4” because it creates more offensive spacing is ignoring what you give up, which is offensive rebounds (that usually turn into easy buckets for your opponents), and consistent guys that can score on the box, or create offensive rebound opportunities for your team that tend to be easy put backs (when you do get them).

  • ersliva

    coach d’umbass just doesn’t like bigmen period…he has an inferiority complexe due to his very limited size and abilities…furthermore he lacks the ability to coach a real team….hes just a glorified high school coach at best…hopefully little jimmy will rectify this major mistake he made when he hired coach d’umbass this off season…and then rectify his biggest problem in hiring phil Jackson as vice president of team operations and let phil rebuild the laker franchise back to where it belongs….and just sit back and take the credit for phils efforts afterwards….its mostly what his father did when jerry west was in laker management…and there is nothing wrong with it…its what all great leaders do actually…rely on those under them….

    • hookedonnews

      Phil Jackson has no track record for being successful at the job you want to give him. That glorified high school coach transformed the NBA with his offensive system. You might want to take a look at the recent interview with Eric Spoelstra who will educate you about Mike D’Antoni. Last time I checked there were several big men playing regularly on this team. If you think starting Kaman would have significantly changed the outcome of this season you’re entitled to that opinion.

  • Lenerd Mckinney

    It’s amazing how stupid D’antoni has proved to be who is it that believes he can coach and win since he has been no more than marginal as a coach to date and that is throughout his career, he is at best like Magic said a mistake and should be thankful to have had an opportunity to coach at this level because on his best day he is only suited for AAU or high school at best

  • ersliva

    this summer the lakers need to sign hawes,gay and lowry and trade gasol for love while getting rid of nash somehow….a starting lineup of hawes/love/gay/Bryant and lowry should place them on top of the west as long as coach d’umbass is fired…because he sucks in the playoffs and we all know defense wins championships…