Rookies await future developments

Times Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Javaris Crittenton and Coby Karl haven’t gotten too far past the last two seats on the bench, which brings up the annual question regarding rookies -- is the Development League an option?

The Lakers’ minor league affiliate begins its season Sunday at Staples Center, and although neither Crittenton nor Karl will suit up for the D-Fenders this early in the season, anything is possible down the road.

“That’s definitely in our thoughts,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.


The Lakers have few minutes to spare in their backcourt because of the emergence of Jordan Farmar and the presence of veterans Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Sasha Vujacic is the team’s fourth guard, averaging 5.9 points and 10 minutes a game, which leaves little room for the rookies.

Although the undrafted Karl is simply happy to be at the NBA level, Jackson senses a minor degree of frustration from Crittenton.

“He’s disappointed,” Jackson said. “I tell kids when they come in to the team similar to a pledge, or someone like that, that rookies are lower [in the pecking order] and they have to understand that. That’s the lowest point in the world. . . . And he’s still finding that out.”

Crittenton, selected No. 19 in the 2007 draft, is averaging two points and six minutes in three games.

“We want him to be a learner right now,” Jackson said. “He’s talented. We’re trying to encourage him to keep learning in practice and developing his game and keep his head up, even though it’s discouraging for him right now.”

Players in their first two seasons can be assigned to the Development League up to three times a season. If Crittenton or Karl were assigned to the D-Fenders, they still would be paid their NBA salaries and would continue to be considered part of the Lakers’ 15-man roster.

Karl has two points in four minutes this season.

When he wasn’t selected in the NBA draft, Karl was quickly snapped up by the Idaho Stampede of the Development League. As long as he is on the Lakers’ roster, he would be sent down to the D-Fenders, not Idaho.

Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers suggested before the game that Kobe Bryant was playing defense better than anybody in the league.

Jackson wasn’t about to argue the point.

“He’s working real hard at it. Kobe’s giving really good effort this year,” Jackson said. “Last year, I thought there were times that he was tired and he was putting more effort in the offense than the defense.”