Just like every other gainfully employed member of the Los Angeles community, the Lakers went to work on Monday.
This was no ordinary Monday, however.
Monday marked the final practice before the lights come on and the NBA regular season gets underway.
On Tuesday night, episode one of the Lake Show features a difficult villain in the Los Angeles Clippers.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni refused to comment on his starters for Tuesday night, but Shawne Williams spoiled the coach’s fun when he confirmed what most expected: Williams will start at power forward against the Clippers.
Steve Blake, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and Nick Young all expect to start alongside Williams.
Chris Kaman will come off the bench, but that does not marginalize the significant role he will play in the team on the night and in the season. Kaman expects to anchor the second unit, and he will also play minutes alongside Gasol in a twin tower lineup.
“I think everyone is excited, kind of chomping at the bit,” Kaman said about the start of the season. “I’ll be ready.”
“I’m a little winded today,” the former LA Clipper admitted for the second day in a row.
Kaman was on the shelf for nine days with a stomach issue following the trip to China. The time off and the loss of fitness were likely driving factors leading to Kaman being overlooked as a starter on opening night. Most expect Kaman to be the first player off the Lakers’ bench, coming in for Williams.
When discussing opening night, a general disclaimer is required: Kobe Bryant will not be playing.
“I would think [Bryant] still has to pick a ball up and shoot some,” D’Antoni loudly laughed off suggestions that his injured superstar could miraculously return without practicing. “I think we can convene a special practice for him if we need to, to see if he’s ready to go.”
D’Antoni was unsure of whether Bryant would be sitting with the team on the bench or in the locker room received treatment on Tuesday night. None of that made much of a difference to the coach, and he was optimistic that the fresh faces, full training camp, and improved team chemistry would lead to wins.
No one truly knows what to expect from this bunch, but if the preseason was any indicator, the Lakers should be significantly more entertaining to watch this season than last season.
If nothing else, this team plays hard, and that is something one could not always say about the team when Dwight Howard was wearing purple and gold.