Guards to battle for playing time
By Ross Siler, Staff writer
11:04:07 PM PDT
EL SEGUNDO - About the only thing Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis can say with respect to the four ball-handing guards competing in training camp is that everything will be sorted out by opening night on Oct. 31.
The Lakers have four such guards in Smush Parker, Sasha Vujacic, Shammond Williams and Jordan Farmar, and only 48 minutes to divide each game between them.
Parker started all 82 games last season and established himself in the league after failing to stick with three previous teams. Vujacic, meanwhile, averaged 17.7 minutes off the bench and knocked down 9 of 15 3-pointers in the playoffs.
Williams has the most experience of the four, having played for six NBA teams before spending the last two seasons in Europe. And Farmar is the team's first-round draft pick who impressed during summer-league play.
"We're going to let them (sort) that out for themselves," Rambis said. "If they're playing well, they'll deserve and earn time. If they're not, then situations will have to be adjusted, whether that's the D-League or moving players on."
Parker was back on the court Thursday after sitting out practice the day before with a sprained shoulder. He spent the off-season working on his mid-range game and trying to forget about his playoff slump against Phoenix.
"We're going to be a better team this year because of it," said Parker, who missed 22 of 26 3-pointers in the first-round series, "and I'm going to be a better player because of my experience last year."
Vujacic worked out in the mountains outside of Belgrade, Serbia, for part of the summer and weighed in for training camp at 205 pounds, up from 193 as a skinny rookie two years ago.
But Vujacic will find competition in Williams. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak approached Williams' agent about signing him before last season but the two sides couldn't work out a deal. Williams led FC Barcelona to the Euroleague Final Four.
Williams is a career 36.3 percent 3-point shooter and can defend small guards. He has spent the early days of training camp picking up the triangle offense.
"What I've been taking pride in is trying to create shots for other people," Williams said. "I feel confident that I'm capable of doing that, getting people in position where they can get open shots."
Rambis said he heard from Jeanie Buss that coach Phil Jackson is walking with a cane and doing well after undergoing hip-replacement surgery Tuesday. Jackson also was described as being "more upright" by Buss.
"Now he's like 7-foot-5," Rambis said, jokingly.