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Lakers' Adam Morrison is aware of the time

In the last year of his contract, the backup small forward needs to get minutes to show what he can do. It will be difficult in a loaded lineup.

October 07, 2009|Broderick Turner

This is the fourth year Adam Morrison has been in the NBA and it's looming as the biggest of his career.

He's in the last year of a contract that pays him $5.2 million and he's on a loaded Lakers team that has left him as the third-string small forward behind Ron Artest and Luke Walton.

What the future holds for Morrison is murky.

"It's definitely a big year for me personally, as far as contract years always are," Morrison said after the Lakers' practice Tuesday.

The Lakers acquired Morrison and Shannon Brown last season from the Charlotte Bobcats. Morrison had limited time with the Lakers, playing in only eight regular-season games, averaging 1.3 points in 5.5 minutes. Morrison did not play in the postseason.

Morrison sat out the 2007-08 season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Now, he is looking for a chance to show the form that made him a big star at Gonzaga and the reason why Charlotte selected him with the third overall pick in 2006 NBA draft.

The Lakers open their exhibition season at 7 tonight against Golden State at the Honda Center, and Lakers Coach Phil Jackson hopes to get a lot of players into the game.

So far in training camp, Morrison has been impressive, doing what he does best.

"He has shot the ball very well," Jackson said. "Liability wise [are his] defense and size at that small forward. . . . [It] still remains an issue perhaps.

"But he's really shown that he can shoot the shots and he's been the best shooter we've had so far in camp."

Morrison acknowledged that his defense has always been an issue, but he is working to get better at it.

Though Morrison has some reservations, Jackson can see a bigger role for him this season.

"It's going to be tough minutes to find on this team, obviously, with such talent that we have," Morrison said. "Hopefully I can find a way in."

Morrison played on the Lakers' summer league team in Las Vegas, which allowed him to find his shot and get his legs back.

He averaged 20.8 points and shot 42% from the field, 42.1% from three-point range.

With his confidence back, Morrison said he would leave it in the hands of the Lakers' coaching staff to decide whether he gets on the court.

"I'm sure they'll give me a chance," Morrison said. "If they don't, there'll obviously be some reason I didn't do what I needed to do."

Lakers' starters

Jackson said his starters tonight against the Warriors will be Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Artest, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

Forward Lamar Odom will come off the bench.


Last fall, when the Lakers played their first exhibition game, Jackson missed it because of pain and swelling in his legs.

He has joked that he might not coach tonight's game either, electing to stay home. When prodded, Jackson said he would decide after the team's shoot-around today.

If he doesn't, Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who is assigned to scout the Warriors, will be in charge. . . .

Jackson remained in a playful mood after practice Tuesday.

When he was asked about Fisher's looking to play beyond next season, Jackson instead joked about his future.

"I'm not going to be here, probably, next year, so I won't have a whole lot of say," Jackson, who is in the final year of a contract that pays him $12 million, said while laughing. "I'm a lame duck." . . .

Backup center DJ Mbenga, who has been injured most of training camp with a hip flexor, practiced Tuesday for the first time in five days.


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