Kurt Rambis not sure Lakers are ready to run next season
Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis hopes to help improve the team’s defense, but he also had some thoughts to share on the offense.
“The [Lakers] still have big people and I think you have to take advantage of the big people,” said Rambis in a phone interview with The Times on Thursday. “You can’t ignore them because they are an asset to your offense.”
The Lakers lost Dwight Howard in free agency but the team still has Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill, along with free-agent acquisition Chris Kaman.
Coach Mike D’Antoni prefers a fast-paced offense but Rambis cautions that the coaching staff still needs to evaluate the players during camp, especially from a health perspective.
Kobe Bryant is recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon. Steve Nash is almost done recovering from hip, hamstring and back injuries that bothered him late in the season. Gasol still hasn’t been cleared completely from knee procedures to help alleviate tendinosis.
“In order to run, you need a push guard. That’s Steve Nash,” said Rambis. “It remains to be seen whether he’s coming back from his injuries, and continues to [push] at an elite fast-break pace.”
In Phoenix, Nash was surrounded by athletes and shooters. The Lakers are moving in that direction but aren’t quite there.
“You need guys that can really get out and fill the wings because that pushes the defense down,” said Rambis. “That’s not necessarily the way that you would look at this team and describe them. You might say that with Nick Young, but it’s not necessarily Kobe’s forte nor was it Metta World Peace’s forte last year.”
D’Antoni had hoped to play at a faster pace but adjusted his system midway through the season to better match the Lakers’ personnel.
It remains to be seen if the acquisitions of Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar and Kaman, along with rookies Elias Harris and Ryan Kelly (who remains unsigned), will be enough for the team to play at an accelerated clip.
“It’s difficult for them to run at a real fast pace,” said Rambis. “That doesn’t mean you can’t push the ball and add some thrust into your offense and play offense before the defense is set. That makes it a lot easier.”
The Lakers will probably play a little quicker than they did last season, but based on the roster, D’Antoni is probably going to have to find some middle ground again.
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