On Tuesday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers met for morning shootaround at their El Segundo practice facility. Less than 10 hours from tiping off the regular season, the team appeared visibly and vocally excited to get the season underway.
After dodging questions about the starting lineup for the duration of preseason, Coach Mike D’Antoni finally relented. Shawne Williams will start alongside Pau Gasol, Nick Young, Steve Nash, and Steve Blake.
D’Antoni also revealed that he would go with an extended 11-man rotation. The five bench players D’Antoni utilized in the final preseason game all expect to be involved in Lakers' season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers. For those who did not intently take notes on the preseason finale, the Lakers employed Jordan Farman, Jodie Meeks, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, and Jordan Hill off the bench. With Chris Kaman now available, the Lakers have 11 players that expect to see the floor on Tuesday night at Staples Center. That is a deep rotation.
“I can’t exclude anybody early,” D’Antoni said. “Maybe we’ll settle into a nine or 10-man rotation.”
Nash’s health continues to be a point of concern, but the Canadian’s involvement on Tuesday night was not in doubt. He will start, and he will play. The next night, however, the Lakers will reevaluate the 39-year-old to see if he is fully fit for a back-to-back against the Golden State Warriors. For Tuesday night, however, Nash was excited to get the season underway.
“It’s always exciting to get the season started,” Nash said. “Opening night always means a lot.”
"First game is always a little more exciting,” Gasol echoed Nash’s sentiments. “There’s always more energy and tension.”
“I look forward to the start of the season,” Gasol continued. “I had a pretty good preseason, probably one of the best I’ve had in my career.”
Now that the preseason is over, Gasol and Lakers will hope that the chemistry built in training camp and the practice season carries into the regular season. Their first test comes Tuesday night at 7:30 pm PST against the LA Clippers.