Lakers have quite a crowded backcourt

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
7:09
PM PT
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It doesn't take a math whiz to look at the Los Angeles Lakers' backcourt options and notice there are four players on guaranteed contracts who are each generally regarded as point guards. Four point guards on a team that can dress 12 every game seems like a bit much.

So it's not all that surprising to read in ESPN.com's Marc Stein's piece Friday that the Lakers are very open to moving Steve Blake and/or Chris Duhon.

As Stein writes:

Sources with knowledge of the Lakers' thinking say that the team is already trying to create a backcourt opening, having made it clear to the rest of the league that Chris Duhon and Steve Blake are available via trade to any interested party willing to absorb one of those contracts.

While it's true that no trade is imminent in either case, that's also the norm in October when outlooks are still rosy in pretty much every NBA training camp and teams generally aren't ready to move. Could the Lakers eventually find a taker for one of those vets? Blake has one season left on his contract after this one valued at $4 million, but Duhon's $3.75 million salary in 2013-14 is unguaranteed, which makes his contract a more attractive acquisition.


What that means in the short term is that Lakers coach Mike Brown's rotation is changing quite a bit from game-to-game as Blake, Duhon and second-year guard Darius Morris vie to be Steve Nash's primary backup.

"Nobody has really locked up that backup point guard spot yet," Brown said. "[Saturday] I'm thinking about giving Darius an opportunity and giving Duhon an opportunity another day and then maybe going back to Blake.

"I'm not sure yet, but I'm going to keep giving guys opportunities. Nobody has really locked up that backup point guard spot yet."

While the Lakers pretty much know what they'll get from Blake and Duhon, Morris is still something of a wild card. The Lakers like his size (6 feet 4), defensive ability and potential, but Brown says he needs to see him "play under control" and "stay within himself a little bit more."

Both of those characterizations are pretty common for young players, especially those who only get limited opportunities as rookies on a veteran team. Morris played in just 19 games as a rookie, averaging 8.9 minutes in those games. But when he got a chance to play on the Lakers summer league team, he shined, averaging 15.2 points, 4.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds in nearly 29 minutes per game in the five games he started.

Brown said he can also see both Morris and Blake playing minutes at the shooting guard position this season.

"Darius is a big guard so if he's out there, he can play the two sometimes," Brown said. "Same with Steve [Blake], he can play the two also. I look at them as guards, rather than just point guards."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0