Lakers coach Byron Scott will soon make a move that Jeremy Lin supports.
Scott plans to start Lin at point guard, likely with 10 games left in the season. The timing is not definitive. The Lakers (17-46) will host the Atlanta Hawks (51-14) on Sunday at Staples Center featuring Jordan Clarkson at point guard for the 22nd consecutive start. The Lakers will also feature Wayne Ellington (shooting guard), Wesley Johnson (small forward), Jordan Hill (power forward) and Tarik Black (center), a lineup that has started for the past three contests.
But Scott plans to start Ryan Kelly at power forward at some point and Lin at point guard, the latter scenario seeming more definitive on the timing.
“I want to see how much of a difference it is now as opposed to the start of the season,” Scott said after Sunday’s morning shootaround at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “He knows the offense better and he knows what I need from him every single night on both ends of the floor. Now to see him in a starting role, it would be a little bit of a change. He was thinking so much back earlier in the season. Right now, he’s just playing.”
Lin started the first 19 games of the season only to lose his starting spot in favor of veteran guard Ronnie Price because of Scott’s preference for his defense and floor leadership. Lin averaged 11.6 points on 44.9 percent shooting and five assists in 29.6 minutes per contest as 23 games as a starter. In 40 games off the bench, Lin averaged similar numbers with a 10.6 points per game average on 42.6 percent shooting and 4.6 assists despite less playing time (23.6 minutes per game).
Lin cited his adjustments in playing Scott’s Princeton-based offense and sharing ball-handling duties with Kobe Bryant. But Scott downplayed if Bryant’s absence because of a season-long right shoulder injury will make it easier for Lin to play as a starter.
“His role won’t change,” Scott said. “It will be the same. I want to keep it as simple as possible. But anytime you don’t have Kobe on the floor, it will be different. You can play without the ball a whole lot more since he draws so much more attention, he draws easier shots. When he’s not on the floor, it makes it tougher.”
“You have to move the ball better and set better screens and all the things we’ve been talking about,” Scott said. “We don’t want him to be a ball stopper. I just want guys to still continue to move on the offensive end so we can get the best possible shots.”
Clarkson has excelled as a starter, averaging 14 points on 44.5 percent shooting and 4.1 assists in 30.2 minutes. The Lakers also appear invested in developing Clarkson, whom the Lakers hold as a team option for the 2015-16 season. That juxtaposes with Lin, who will become an unrestricted free agent after making $14.9 million this past season.
Yet, Scott argued featuring Clarkson off the bench will also provide insight on how he plays in a different role.
“I’d just like to see JC come off the bench,” Scott said, “and see what he provides.”