Derek Fisher may sit exhibition opener

Updated: December 18, 2011, 10:45 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Before the Los Angeles Lakers broke their huddle at the end of Sunday's practice, Kobe Bryant had something to say to the team.

"Time to get in game mode," Bryant said, before reminding the group that the Lakers' opening game on Christmas Day against the Chicago Bulls was just a week away.

The Lakers' first official dress rehearsal comes even sooner.

The Lakers host the revamped Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on Monday. While it will be Los Angeles' first opportunity to watch the new-look Clippers with Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler in uniform, the Lakers' lineup will look far different against the Clippers than it will against the Bulls.

For starters, Derek Fisher might not play in it.

"I may sit Derek out (Monday) to continue let him get in shape, or playing shape, for us," said coach Mike Brown.

Fisher worked out with new Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tom DiFrancesco on the sidelines at the end of practice Sunday while the rest of the team played full court. Fisher was also held out of the team's intrasquad scrimmage on Friday at USC's Galen Center, but the 37-year-old guard said it was "just rest" and did not report any specific injury.

Furthermore, Andrew Bynum will play in it, even though he is suspended for the Lakers first five games of the season because of his hit on J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against Dallas last spring.

"I'm going to use Bynum like he's playing in the first game," Brown said. "I'm not worried about him being suspended. We don't have a ton of time to try to figure things out, so Bynum is going to play."

The rest of the starting lineup will likely be filled up by Steve Blake at point guard (if Fisher doesn't play), Bryant at shooting guard, Pau Gasol at power forward and Matt Barnes at small forward.

Brown intends to have Metta World Peace come off the bench this season, but just because Barnes will start Monday doesn't mean he has won World Peace's starting position permanently yet. Devin Ebanks is still in the running.

"There's a good chance that I may start Matt (on Monday) and Ebanks on Wednesday," said Brown, referring to the second of two games on the team's preseason when the Lakers will play the Clippers again Wednesday. "Or I might start Matt (on Monday) and Ebanks at halftime and then flip it the next day. I'm not sure. I'm going to give both those guys a look. They've both have been playing very well for us and they both deserve to play, so they're going to get an opportunity to continue getting looks."

Even though Brown's teams won 60-plus regular season games in his last two seasons in Cleveland, the coach said he probably had a losing preseason record with the Cavaliers because he uses exhibitions as teaching tools rather than a time to focus on getting a win at all costs.

"We're going to approach it from a standpoint that I need to get a feel for guys and what they can do on the floor, so I'm going to try and get some sort of rotation down these next two games," Brown said. "We're going to try to play the right way, but I won't sacrifice us learning and getting better just to try to win the ballgame."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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