A follow-up examination of Shaquille O'Neal showed Tuesday that his strained abdominal muscle is improving--but not enough to allow him to play in the season opener Friday against the Utah Jazz at the Forum.
The Lakers don't play again until Tuesday at Sacramento, so they hope the assist from the schedule means their superstar center will sit out only the opener.
O'Neal is scheduled to see Dr. Steve Lombardo again Monday for another progress report.
O'Neal has been bothered much of training camp because of the potentially serious injury, first sitting out two days of workouts, returning and playing the first four exhibition games.
But four minutes into the fifth, Oct. 9 at Denver, he aggravated the condition and sat out the rest of that night and the final three contests.
Tuesday's news means Elden Campbell probably will start against the Jazz at center, a position where he substituted so well last season.
It could also make Robert Horry the power forward, a new role that comes complete with the briefest of honeymoons. Karl Malone is coming to town.