McKie May Not Make Roster
10:00 PM PDT
Friday, October 6, 2006
EL SEGUNDO - His health remains a concern, so much so that Aaron McKie has many wondering if he'll be a Laker this season.
McKie missed most of Friday's practice with a sore back, fueling speculation that he may not be up to playing a 13th season. McKie, 34, missed 50 games last season, his first in LA, with a slight tear of the left quadriceps.
The Lakers may have to buy McKie out of his $2.5 million contract, especially considering they have a group of younger, healthier guards.
McKie wasn't the factor the Lakers figured he'd be after they signed him to a two-year, $5 million deal last year. He played in just 14 games and never quite got comfortable with the triangle offense, averaging less than a point in 8.6 minutes.
The Lakers like McKie's maturity, his leadership qualities and his professionalism. But that may not be enough.
"He shows all those good instincts that good defensive players have," assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. "He understands this offense, and now it's just physically whether or not he's able to keep up with it if he's going to compete for a spot."
Kobe Bryant, Smush Parker, Sasha Vujacic, Shammond Williams, Maurice Evans and Jordan Farmar all appear assured of making the Lakers.
Devin Green, who signed a non-guaranteed contract, also will push for a job. His chance of making the Lakers may be tied to McKie's performance.
Chris Mihm, still recovering from right ankle surgery, said he has increased his activity but that he's not ready to practice.
Mihm said his goal remains to be ready for the Oct. 31 opener, but that it's possible he'll be able to play in the final exhibition Oct. 26.
Practice Gets Physical
Friday's practice became a little rough at times. There was some trash-talking, pushing and shoving.
"Everybody wanted to prove that they could play," Lamar Odom said. "Right about this time, you don't really get to show your individual stuff. Everything is so systematic. We've got to learn things together, as far as defense, offense -- even running the fast break is systematic.
"Guys get a little testy, especially the one time they get the ball and they get fouled, and then it's, like, an elbow."
Rambis wasn't happy with how the players reacted, how they got physical with each other.
"Our players were fouling way too much in practice," he said. "It's always frustrating for players when that happens ...
"Part of their learning the concepts that we're trying to get across to them defensively is being able to trust that your defensive teammate is going to be there so that you don't have to foul. You know that the support is there so you're not going to have to grab and reach and pull somebody, because somebody is going to be there to help you.
"Hopefully that aspect will eliminate a lot of fouling."
Reach Broderick Turner at bturner@PE.com