Chris Kaman finally had the game he envisioned when he signed with the Lakers last July.
An advocate on numerous occasions for more playing time, Kaman had 27 points and 10 rebounds in almost 28 minutes of the Lakers’ 92-86 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bulls.
He was strong down low, hit some mid-range shots and had his best game on offense in almost two years.
His minutes, though, will decrease again when Pau Gasol returns from a strained groin after the All-Star break, assuming Gasol isn’t traded before the Feb. 20 deadline.
“The structure of the team when Pau comes back, it’s tough,” Coach Mike D’Antoni said before smiling at reporters. “Get ready to write a nice article and kill me. Whatever you want to do.”
It’s been a consistent question from Lakers fans. Why pay Kaman $3.2 million this season and bury him in the rotation most nights?
“The season has been a frustrating year for me personally,” Kaman said. “As a team, I think guys are frustrated as well. It’s been so up and down and so inconsistent. Part of that is having injuries and then a part of that is a lot of guys are on one-year deals, not knowing what they want to do, not knowing where they’re supposed to be.
“That’s one thing that’s tough with injuries. You don’t build a good chemistry like you normally would if you’re healthy.”
Kaman, 31, then repeated similar comments from a couple of points earlier this season.
“It isn’t what I anticipated coming here, obviously. I thought I would have the opportunity to play more minutes with Pau,” Kaman said. “But history shows with Coach D’Antoni’s style, it’s more of a small man’s game and I suffer as a result of that. It is what it is. I can’t argue with what the head guy is saying. I’ve got to trust the position of head coach.
“It’s obviously frustrating at times, especially when you’re losing a lot. We had that little stretch where it was tough to sit there and watch, knowing that I could help maybe or at least give a little effort to try to be part of a change in momentum.
“You guys can check my track record. I’ve been pretty successful in a lot of different areas. I think I can play. It’s just hard to show what you can do in five, six, seven and 10 minutes. Sometimes it’s not a good way to analyze a player.”
Kaman averaged 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 17 minutes before Sunday’s outburst. He averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds for Dallas last season, and 13.1 points and 7.7 rebounds for New Orleans in 2011-12.
The Lakers prefer the defense of second-year center Robert Sacre, who doesn’t have the skills on offense like Kaman.
“Chris was not in the rotation not because of what he did. He’s been playing well,” D’Antoni said. “Chris Kaman’s a very good basketball player, so we’ll try to work it out and try to figure it out somehow.”