MINNEAPOLIS — Chris Kaman found himself back on the bench again, and new reasons emerged.
They did not involve Pau Gasol returning to the lineup. He still remains sick with vertigo. Nor has Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni gone back to his small-ball philosophy. Instead,Kaman lasted only five minutes of the Lakers’ 143-107 loss Friday to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center after seeing Nikola Pekovic scored eight of his team-high 26 points within that time frame.
“We tried to shake it up,” D’Antoni said. “We had a little bit of it, but by the time it was time for him to get back in, the game was out of hand. I went with young guys.”
D’Antoni was referring to Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre, both whom showed better defensive effort and likely fit more within the team’s long-term plans. Kaman signed with the Lakers this offseason at the mini mid-level exception worth $3.2 million, saying recently that he should have researched more about how D’Antoni’s offense would feature him before joining on board. Kaman also took issue with D’Antoni’s thought process.
“I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment of any player,” Kaman said. “It’s hard to go in for five minutes and not know it’s five and try to get a rhythm going. If I don’t have something going for five minutes, I won’t play the rest of the game and have a chance to redeem anything. He didn’t say anything to me about going with the young guys. But Steve Nash is 40 years old. He stayed with him so I’m not sure that’s par for the course.”
Nash posted four points and six assists in 15 minutes while Kaman had two points, a rebound and a steal in five minutes, 37 seconds. But the circumstances are different. The Lakers only have one traditional point guard in Kendall Marshall, who went scoreless on six missed field goal attempts in 15 minutes. Sacre (14 points on 6 of 11 shooting in 30 minutes) and Kelly (nine points on 4 of 11 shooting in 23 minutes) immediately showed more hustle on defense than Kaman did.
Kaman’s frustration hasn’t simmered after missing a recent 10 game stretch, nursing a sore right foot and missing the beginning of the Lakers’ trip this week to handle a personal matter. But he still had started the three previous games posting double digits.
“It was hard. The way the Lakers organization has us travel is a lot easier than a commercial flight. It’s a frustrating situation all around. Kaman said. “It’s hard for a player to know what to think, do and say. I’m trying to be cool about it and stay positive. But its definitely difficult.”