Lakers say they have ample time to shape up
The Lakers feel there is more than enough time to get their mojo back.
They have a little more than two weeks to straighten things out before they open the regular season Oct. 26 at Staples Center against the Houston Rockets. There are six more exhibition games to play, and they have two days of practice this week before they play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in Las Vegas.
There was no practice Sunday, but the Lakers will be back at work Monday.
“We just want to make progress, that’s all,” Coach Phil Jackson said after practice Saturday. “Right now, Lamar [Odom] is the only guy that’s in condition to play due to his USA Basketball involvement this summer. Some of our guys are in pretty good condition, but not basketball condition.
“So, knowing the timing it takes to play the game and feeling the comfort zone of how to play basketball is just something that we’re looking for.”
The Lakers won’t be without challenges.
Kobe Bryant still is trying to get his right knee stronger after having surgery in July. Andrew Bynum hasn’t begun to practice after surgery on his right knee and might not play until late November or early December.
Luke Walton is dealing with a right hamstring injury that kept him out of the first two exhibition games. He’s expected to be reevaluated this week.
“I just don’t think that Andrew, that there is a chance he’s going to possibly be ready for the season,” said Jackson, who added that the Lakers also aren’t sure how ready Bryant will be when the season starts. “So we have to bring up the game and have a concept on how we want to play the game. That will be done during these next preseason games in the next week and a half.”
Caracter may be needed
Rookie power forward Derrick Caracter may be called upon to fill some of the void while Bynum is sidelined.
Pau Gasol will start at center in place of Bynum, Odom will start at power forward and Theo Ratliff, 37, will be the backup center.
Caracter, a second-round pick drafted 58th overall, could play a role in certain situations.
“It could easily be,” Jackson said.
Caracter has gotten past his weight issues, which compelled the Lakers to put a weight clause in his contract before it become guaranteed at $473,000 for this season.
At Texas El Paso, the 6-foot-9 Caracter had ballooned to 315 pounds, but the Lakers list him at 275.
“That was their biggest concern,” Caracter said. “My first two years in college, the whole thing was ‘weight, weight, weight.’ So they put a weight clause in my contract. We got past that and now I’m just looking forward to the season.”
In the first two exhibition games, Caracter did not distinguish himself, shooting one for 10 from the field. He did have nine rebounds in the loss to Minnesota in London.
“I was hoping that he would be able to fit in a little bit in Europe,” Jackson said. “I had experimented a little bit with him at center and power forward. But it’s not going to be easy for him. He’s going to have to figure out a lot of stuff quickly.”