The silence by Laker players on whether they would like to see Del Harris remain as coach is becoming deafening, but everyone strongly denies ever voting for his ouster.
Whether players are dodging the issue so hard they may end up on the injured list with back strains is out of a desire to remain neutral and leave the issue to management or out of a desire to avoid publicly burying their coach is unclear. But what has become apparent is that they are not exactly rallying behind Harris.
Shaquille O'Neal said, "I like Del. I've learned a lot from him, and he's stuck up for me. He's a good guy."
But when directly asked if he would like Harris to stay, the team captain and franchise cornerstone replied:
"I don't even want to get into that. I like him personally. It's just unfortunate that in this business, when things don't go well, coaches get the blame first."
Added Derek Fisher, echoing a similar thought, "It feels uncomfortable talking about whether a guy should have his job taken away, his future, his livelihood. But fortunately it's not affecting us when we start practice and we start a game."
That much was evident Wednesday, when the Lakers regained some elusive intensity and, in the best sign for Harris' future, showed they will still play hard for him rather than take a dive to press for a firing. The 104-95 victory gave them a sweep of the two-game series with the Indiana Pacers, who may finish with one of the five best records in the league.
Harris continues to put forth a strong persona amid what could be a difficult time. In the locker room after the victory, he reminded players that practice Thursday would be at 11 o'clock, then added, in obvious deadpan, "And as far as I know, I'll be there."
TONIGHT vs. San Antonio
* Fox Sports
Site--Great Western Forum.
Radio--KLAC (570), KWKW (1330).
Records--Lakers 40-18, Spurs 40-19.
Record vs. Spurs--2-0.
Update--Elden Campbell is day-to-day after suffering a cervical strain Wednesday, an especially critical development for the Lakers since the Spurs come in with David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Sean Rooks has an upper-respiratory infection and is also day-to-day.