Shooter Takes 'D' Seriously
11:52 PM PDT
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
By BRODERICK TURNER
EL SEGUNDO - Oh, it was an insult, all right, one that Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis threw out at Vladimir Radmanovic and one the 6-foot-10 forward took in stride.
Defense has been the big theme during the first two days of Lakers training camp, and Radmanovic took the bait.
Radmanovic is not known for his defensive prowess, but he has been getting down in his defensive stance, talking on defense, helping on defense, trying to be a better defender than he ever has been.
After Tuesday's practice, Rambis told Radmanovic he "showed me a lot more on the defensive end than I expected out of him."
Rambis, who is running Lakers practices while head coach Phil Jackson recovers from right hip replacement surgery, gathered his thoughts for a moment, looked at Radmanovic and said, "I guess that's kind of an insult, huh?"
"It was a positive insult," Radmanovic said.
"You can tell that his mind-set is to play offense," Rambis said, "but he also understands that he's got a responsibility on the defensive end."
The reality is that the Lakers signed Radmanovic to a five-year, $31 million contract in July because he can stretch the defense with his ability to consistently knock down three-point shots.
Radmanovic made 39 percent of his three-pointers last season. He was acquired by the Clippers in February for his outside shooting, and he didn't disappoint, making 46.3 percent of his three-pointers during the playoffs. He has shot 38.1 percent from three-point range over his five-year career.
Radmanovic did say he understands the Lakers' defensive principles because they are similar to the ones he learned during his first four-plus seasons in Seattle.
"I'm pretty much familiar with that kind of defense," Radmanovic said. "I think I can help a lot."
He's still learning the triangle offense, but he rebuffed the notion that it takes a player an entire season to learn it.
"I'll try to pick it up earlier," Radmanovic said. "It's going to be too late at the end of the season. It doesn't seem too complicated to me. Maybe it is. I just don't realize it yet. So far, it's been pretty good for me. There are some adjustments I have to do. Just get rid of old habits and put all this new stuff into my brain and start working it that way."
Parker's Shoulder Hurting
The beat-up Lakers took another hit Wednesday when point guard Smush Parker was forced out of practice because of a sprained right shoulder.
Parker said he was injured after he dived on the floor for a loose ball during practice Tuesday and collided with Brian Cook.
Parker said he woke up Wednesday and felt stiffness and swelling in the shoulder. He said he should return soon.
None of the Lakers have forgotten they had a 3-1 lead over the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. They lost the series and became just the eighth team in NBA history to lose a series after such a lead.
The Lakers appeared to have won Game 6 at home but couldn't secure a rebound, which led to Tim Thomas hitting a game-tying three-pointer. LA lost in overtime.
"(We were) a rebound, a defensive rotation away from advancing and playing teams that we thought the matchup went in our favor," Lamar Odom said. "I guess we looked past the first round a little bit when we were up 3-1. That was the youth thing, so everybody matured a little bit and, hopefully, we'll learn how to kick them when they are down."
Reach Broderick Turner at bturner@PE.com