He lost his starting position, and Lakers guard Jeremy Lin voiced his disapproval through words.
“I believe I can be a starting point guard in the league and I want to be,” Lin said following the Lakers’ 104-87 loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. “That’s been a goal of mine for a long time. I’m not going to lie. It was disappointing when I heard about it.”
He lost his starting position, and Lakers forward Carlos Boozer voiced his disapproval through silence. He left the locker room without speaking to reporters, leaving the man who demoted Boozer to speak for him.
“He wasn’t real happy,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “He wasn’t real talkative today.”
Yet, the circumstances regarding their demotions are different.
That includes their roles.
Boozer, a two-time NBA All-Star, has averaged 12.4 points on a 49.8 percent clip, but Scott has often criticized his defensive effort and execution. Meanwhile, Lin has averaged 11.9 points on 45.2 percent shooting and 4.9 assists but he has admitted feeling uncomfortable splitting ball handling duties with Kobe Bryant and adapting to Scott’s Princeton-based offense.
“This is one of the toughest situations I’ve been in every since I played the game of basketball,” Lin said. “It’s tough, but I believe God has me for a reason and I just keep working.”
That includes how they learned about their demotions.
Scott brought Lin into his office after Sunday’s morning shootaround explaining the thought process. Scott believes Lin lacks point guard instincts that include managing the shot clock, organizing the offense and knowing where to rotate on defense consistently. Scott told reporters he also considers Ronnie Price a better defender.
“He was okay with it. He understood that the way we were playing as a team, I had to make some changes,” Scott said of Lin. “In 10-15 games, I might make some more changes.”
Scott hardly had as much dialogue with Boozer about his role. In fact, Scott said he basically had none. Boozer missed Sunday’s morning shootaround because of an upper respiratory infection. Scott then told reporters about Boozer’s demotion. Boozer eventually found out second hand.
“Carlos has been in this league for 13 years,” Scott said. “I don’t have to have feedback on him or talk to him. He’s not young like Jeremy. I didn’t get a chance to tell him. When I walked in I could tell he knew. He already knows. No big deal. We’ll go from here and see how he handles it.”
Boozer handled it by posting 12 points on 6-of-12 shooting and six fouls through 23 minutes, basically matching Ed Davis’ offensive production. New Orleans forward Anthony Davis still scored 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting. This all brought how reminders of Boozer sitting out in fourth quarters last season in Chicago because of his defensive issues. Regardless of his role, the Lakers cannot trade Boozer since he was picked up off the amnesty claim.
“He wasn’t happy about it, which made me happy,” Scott said. “If he was happy about it, I know right then it doesn’t mean nothing to him.”
Lin handled it by posting only three points on 1 of 5 shooting and four assists in 20 minutes, basically matching Ronnie Price’s offensive struggles that entailed three points on 1-of-4 shooting. New Orleans guard and former UCLA standout Jrue Holiday also dropped 22 points on a 9-of-17 clip. Lin contended he’s “not even close” toward playing to his potential. Lin often invoked his Christian faith by citing this latest incident as an adversity he can overcome. Lin noted how his latest incident differs from his bench role last season in Houston considering it happened after he already became familiar with his teammates and the Rockets.
Most importantly, Scott refused to suggest Scott did not grant him a fair shake.
“I’m not going to even go in that direction,” Lin said. “I know what I need to do moving forward. For me, the best way I can summarize it is in my life it’s about glorifying God every day through the highs and lows. There’s no surprise right now it’s a lot for me and the team. Everyday it’s about waking up tomorrow, doing my best, having a good attitude, glorify him and everything and moving forward and trusting him with what happens.”
And what has happened so far entails two significant players experiencing a demoted role that, at least temporarily, did not solve the Lakers’ issues.