Lakers' Luke Walton will wait behind Ron Artest

Artest likes to play heavy minutes at small forward, which will cut time for Walton.

October 04, 2009|Broderick Turner

Luke Walton knows his time on the court might decrease now that the Lakers have Ron Artest.

Walton is aware that Artest likes to play heavy minutes.

Still, Walton said he hopes he can continue to get quality minutes this season as the backup small forward behind Artest.

"I want to play," Walton said after practice Saturday. "There's no way to tell right now until the season gets going. But I'm going to work my tail off to try and earn as many minutes as I can get."

Walton averaged 17.9 minutes last season in 65 games, 34 as a starter.

Artest averaged 35.2 minutes a game last season with the Houston Rockets.

"That affects Luke's role," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "I talked to him a little bit about it before the season in recognition that some things have changed. But he still can play a number of positions for us.

"We know that Ron likes to play in the 30s [minutes].We'll see how it plays out, but Ron's going to have big-minute nights."

Because he can handle the basketball, run the offense and pass, Walton said he'll play anywhere, as long as he can get on the court.

"Hey, I'll play some one [point guard], Magic Johnson style," Walton said, half-jokingly. "I'll just back people all the way down the court."

Jackson cuts morning practice

The coach noticed tired legs at training camp Saturday morning, so Jackson reduced the scheduled three-hour practice to one hour.

The Lakers had practiced for five days, a total of seven sessions with the two-a-days.

With the Lakers set to scrimmage later Saturday night, Jackson wanted his players ready to play.

"It took them a while to getting them shooting at a level I wanted them to shoot today," Jackson said. "So I cut this practice a little bit short because I wanted them rested for [Saturday] night so that they can have a good scrimmage."

The Lakers don't play their first exhibition game until Wednesday, when they face the Golden State Warriors at the Honda Center in Anaheim, so Jackson wants to see his team make strides in the meantime.

"I look for recognition, for players to start recognizing how to play in their roles they have out there," Jackson said. "I look for how they are going to use things in the offense for their own advantage, how they are getting along with their teammates as far as moving the ball and looking for one another."

Artest downplays Cuban's comments

Artest said he was told about Mark Cuban's comments by his "Twitter friends," in which the Dallas Mavericks owner suggested that Artest would upset the Lakers' chemistry.

"I talked to Kobe [Bryant] about it," Artest said. "He said that's what happens when you're a Laker."

In an ESPN radio interview in Dallas, Cuban said: "Could you imagine? Ron Artest has got the ball and Kobe's standing there, 'Throw me the ball.' Thank you, Ron Artest."

Artest viewed Cuban's comments as entertainment.

"As long as you can play basketball, work hard, come to work every day, get your training in, get your extra work in, I think it's important that the fans get entertained," Artest said. "It's important that Mark Cuban says stuff like that. It's great for the fans. It's something to read and it keeps it interesting.

"Nobody is really getting hurt. It's just words. I think the fans like that. That's why I love this game."


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