Odom practices with second unit mainly

Times Staff Writer

It was only one practice, with a slew of them still remaining before the regular season, but Lamar Odom was not on the starting unit for most of Saturday’s session.

Odom played primarily with the second string before being shifted to the first unit toward the end of practice

“We’re having Lamar come in and play off the bench so that he can start thinking about how he can help the team and what he can do when he does that,” Coach Phil Jackson said. “But I don’t know if I’ll experiment with it in a game yet.”


The answer could be gleaned as soon as tonight when the Lakers play Sacramento in Las Vegas.

Odom has not been sharp in the team’s first two exhibitions, averaging 1.5 points, two assists, four rebounds and 2.5 turnovers.

Jackson recently said Odom appeared to be playing a game of curling or “doing some other kind of sport” on the court in a Lakers exhibition loss to Utah.

Jackson and Odom have been at odds since training camp began, with Odom bristling a couple of weeks ago when Jackson hinted at a sixth-man role for him. Odom left Saturday without talking to reporters.

Jackson said Saturday that Odom as a sixth man would “really helps us.”

“We know that we can stick a lineup out on the floor that’s probably going to be 6-7 and taller and play this game that we have,” he said.

If Odom became a reserve, he could still play substantial minutes, Jackson said.

“If the team’s successful out on the floor, you want to keep that group going, so if a guy comes in and plays, you play him until he’s tired,” he said. “We [could] really get a sixth guy who can play 34 minutes with ease.”

Odom, in the last year of his contract, averaged 14.2 points a game last season, the second-lowest of his career.

He averaged a career-best 10.6 rebounds a game, along with 3.5 assists in 37.9 minutes a game.

In Saturday’s practice, Odom played small forward, power forward and ball-handling guard.

Otherwise, the Lakers practiced intensely at times, with Kobe Bryant and Jordan Farmar exchanging sharp dialogue after the second string beat the first string in a brief game. Bryant reminded Farmar that the starters had won five in a row, while Farmar retorted with, “Check your count,” claiming it was fewer than that.

Jackson, observing from the sideline, hadn’t been thrilled with the Lakers’ overall effort to date, but he thought the upcoming week would be better.

“We’re still a long ways off,” he said. “I think by next weekend we’ll start to be somewhere where I would consider us kind of conditioned.”

European vacation?

The Lakers haven’t played an overseas exhibition since 1991, but that might change soon.

“I think the NBA is requiring teams now to go overseas once every three years,” Jackson said. “I’m not sure about that, but I think there’s almost like a, ‘You will be called upon to go overseas during the exhibition season.’ ”

The Lakers played two games against French teams in Paris before the 1991-92 season.

The Lakers, who could have as many as five foreign-born players on their roster when the season begins, play Regal FC Barcelona on Oct. 18 at Staples Center.

Injury report

Sasha Vujacic will not play tonight because of a sprained ankle. He said he hoped to resume practice Monday. . . . Derek Fisher (knee), Farmar (foot) and DJ Mbenga (heel) practiced Saturday after sitting out various parts of Friday’s practice.