An NBA coach has 240 minutes to parcel out to his players in a regulation game.
Most teams settle into eight or nine guys who play the majority of the minutes. So far this season, Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni is running an unorthodox 11-man rotation.
The results have been inconclusive, as the Lakers have split their first four games.
"We're not a well-oiled machine," guard Steve Nash said after practice Monday. "We don't even know what lineups suit us best yet, let alone what each other are going to do."
In four games D'Antoni has used 34 player combinations.
Pau Gasol said he hopes his coach settles into a more predictable routine. "Definitely rotation and lineups will help with us being more consistent," Gasol said.
D'Antoni said he can afford to take his time to find the best combinations of players, as long as the team is winning.
"If you start losing, then you have to do something quicker," he said. "I don't think we're at that point yet."
Naturally, some of his players have their own opinions on who should be on the court.
"I'd like Jordan [Hill] to see more minutes," Gasol said. "I'd like Chris [Kaman] to get more minutes.
And Gasol, who is averaging 26 minutes a game, would like more time on the court too.
"At some point in the future . . . I would like my minutes also to increase," Gasol said.
"I want to be patient," said Kaman, who has averaged 16.5 minutes coming off the bench. "I just want it to be consistent, but at the same time I'm willing to be patient. I trust Coach to figure it out."
D'Antoni said he eventually will shrink his rotation, but that means at least two players aren't going to be happy with the solution.
Of course, whatever number D'Antoni settles on will change when Kobe Bryant returns from his Achilles' tendon injury.
Last season Nash suffered a leg fracture in the second game of the season. He hasn't been the same since — and was hampered throughout the preseason by various problems, including neck and ankle soreness.
"I'm still fighting things that happened because of the broken leg," Nash said. "I still feel that almost every day, all over. It's not just in that spot. The whole system in a way is different now, it's just a little bit more sensitive."
Nash had his best game of the season Sunday night in the Lakers' 105-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks, with 13 points and six assists in a season-high 29 minutes. He said he's "extremely optimistic" that he'll be a steady contributor this season.
"If last night's an indication, if I can get up another level or two, I can be pretty effective," he said.
Hill missed practice Monday because of a sore right knee; an MRI test revealed he had a bone bruise. The Lakers said Hill is available to play Tuesday night in Dallas against the Mavericks.
Twitter: @EricPincusCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times