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LAKERS FYI

Tinkering as he tailors lineup

October 14, 2008|Broderick Turner | Times Staff Writer

It's as if Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has become this mad scientist, relishing entering his laboratory to experiment with his test subjects.

Subject No. 1 is Lamar Odom, who started the Lakers' first two exhibitions but came off the bench in Sunday night's win over the Sacramento Kings.

Subject No. 2 is Andrew Bynum, who came off the bench in the first two games but started against the Kings.

His other subjects are Trevor Ariza and Vladimir Radmanovic. Ariza started the first two games but was a reserve Sunday. Radmanovic came off the bench the first two games but started against the Kings.

"I'm alternating a few guys out there together, see how they play," Jackson said.

Only Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol have started all three games.

"Phil is still playing with the lineup," Bryant said. "It's tough to really know what that lineup is going to look like, or what we want to be while he still tinkers with it."

Odom started the first two games at power forward, in which he played a hybrid role, also initiating the offense at point guard. He has started throughout his nine-year NBA career.

It would seem that Odom's preference is to start, especially considering that this is the final year of his contract.

"That doesn't matter," Odom said Monday. "I'm not the coach. It don't matter. I'm comfortable in my own skin."

This, in contrast with his public questioning of Jackson earlier this month. Jackson complimented Odom's play against the Kings, with one exception. "Did he take a three-point shot when he first got in the game?" Jackson said. "I didn't like that."

Odom is taking it all in stride. He freely talks to the media, but he hasn't had a conversation with Jackson about his role.

"For what?" Odom said. "Everybody in this league knows I can play. I can play anywhere. You need a 'four' [power forward], you need a 'three' [small forward], I can play there. I can guard centers. I can play in this league."

Jackson said Radmanovic is the starter "right now" at small forward.

As for how long that will last, Jackson smiled at the question.

"I don't know," he said. "We played really well with him out there on the floor, so as long as you play well, coaches are addicted to that kind of stuff."

So Jackson was asked whether Radmanovic would remain in the starting lineup for the team's next game Saturday.

"Weekend is a long ways away," he said. "We just go one day at a time, see how that works."

Long practice

For more than 3 1/2 hours Monday, the Lakers labored at practice. When they had a chance to end practice early by making some free throws, they were unsuccessful, which allowed a smiling Jackson to extend practice longer until the goal was accomplished.

Even though the Lakers played an exhibition Sunday night in Las Vegas and flew back to Los Angeles after the game, that meant little to Jackson. Every player shot a free throw, all of them knowing they needed to make 13 of 17 to end practice. They failed the first time and had to run lines.

They failed again and had to do more running.

On the third try, the Lakers made the necessary amount.

"You've just got to bring a sense of urgency to it," Bryant said.

The Lakers' next games are this weekend in the two-day "shootout" at Staples Center. They will play Regal FC Barcelona at 7:30 p.m. after the Clippers play the Toronto Raptors at 4:30. The winners play each other and the losers play each other Sunday afternoon.

Etc.

Luke Walton, who hasn't played in an exhibition after off-season right ankle surgery, said he would play Saturday night. Sasha Vujacic (left ankle) won't rush back.

--

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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