When the Lakers signed Chris Kaman over summer, many questioned why the Lakers would spend $3.2 million on a 7-foot center when they already have Pau Gasol on their team.
This question was seemingly answered during the pre-season when it was revealed that Kaman could successfully play alongside Gasol as the two big men showed promise while playing in the front court together.
However, when the Lakers returned from the China trip, Kaman was taken ill with salmonella and missed the team’s last two pre-season games. Shawne Williams started at the power forward spot in Kaman’s absence and has stayed there ever since.
Now, we’re four games into the season and Kaman is averaging just 16.5 minutes per game despite averaging 8.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per outing.
While Kaman understands the situation that he’s in, he’s growing somewhat frustrated and would like to play more minutes, according to Arash Markazi from ESPN Los Angeles:
[pullquote]”It’s not easy, but I want to be patient with Coach because he’s a good guy and he’s been straight with me,” Kaman said after the Lakers’ 105-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. “We’ve talked and he’s said, ‘Hey, I want to get you in there more, but I’m trying to do everything.’ It’s hard to make everybody happy and do your job and win. There’s a lot going on there for him.”
“I want to be patient, but it is frustrating when you play 13, 12, 18 [minutes]. I want it to be consistent,” Kaman said. “At the same time I’m willing to be patient and trust Coach to figure it out and we’ll see how it goes.
“I would like to play [with] Pau a little bit more and get a rhythm going. I thought we played well in the preseason and I kind of went back to that. I think Coach D’Antoni notoriously likes a smaller four-man who can shoot the ball to stretch the floor and open up space for the drives and kicks and penetration.”[/pullquote]
Kaman is trying to be as politically correct as possible here, but it’s obvious that he took less money in order to come to the Lakers and was expecting to get a fair amount of playing time in return to show off his skills and earn a more lucrative deal next summer. That was the plan for a lot of the players on this year’s squad.
D’Antoni’s excuse for not giving Kaman more minutes is that he believes everyone “deserves a shot at it” right now, yet it seems that the logical move would be to bench Williams and place Kaman in the starting lineup, if only just for a few games to see what comes of it.
This way, Jordan Hill would receive more minutes too.
Williams’ play has been disappointing so far this season: He’s averaging 3.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in just under 16 minutes per game while shooting just 25 percent from three-point range – that’s not a great percentage for a player who is meant to be filling the “stretch four” role.
Kaman will make his first return back to Dallas on Tuesday night – he played one season for the Mavericks last year before leaving via free agency over the summer – and it would be nice to see the big man get the start against his old team.