Forward Devin Ebanks is trying to prove he can be a valuable contributor… (Gerald Herbert / Associated…)
Sometimes ending up back where you started isn't such a bad thing.
Consider the peculiar case of Devin Ebanks, who began the season as a Lakers starter before drifting toward the end of the bench and then obscurity in the Development League.
Now Ebanks is back in a prominent spot, starting his sixth consecutive game for the Lakers on Tuesday when they played the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center.
Ebanks' latest opportunity arose when Kobe Bryant was sidelined because of a sore left shin. Lakers Coach Mike Brown gave Bryant's starting spot to Ebanks because he liked the 6-foot-9 forward's length and wanted to keep his bench rotation intact.
His message to Ebanks was clear: Don't try to do too much.
"All you've got to do is go just be solid out there," Brown said he told Ebanks. "Don't make any unnecessary mistakes and don't have any turnovers that are unforced or anything like that and when you are open, step up and knock it down. When you get out and run and get a layup, go ahead and do that, and every once in a while [get] an offensive rebound."
Ebanks has complied, his averages of 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in his first five games since moving back into the starting lineup exceeding his season averages of 3.2 points and 1.9 rebounds.
Ultimately, it might not amount to a career-altering development for a player whose agent recently said Ebanks' limited playing time would probably prompt him to seek a different team when he becomes a restricted free agent in July.
It's unlikely Ebanks will crack the Lakers' playoff rotation once Bryant returns, but now at least Ebanks has been able to provide a better glimpse of his potential.
"He was ready and he's played well," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. "He's been doing what he can to fill his role."
The rest of the story
Gasol said he wouldn't mind getting a breather before the playoffs.
The forward went into Tuesday's game averaging 37.4 minutes per game, second on the Lakers behind Bryant's 38.4 minutes, and would be a candidate to have his playing time reduced in the next 10 days. So would center Andrew Bynum, who was averaging 35.6 minutes before Tuesday.
Brown said he would consider resting key players before the playoffs if he thought it would benefit them and they agreed with the move. Gasol already seemed on board.
"Rest is always good, especially going into the postseason," Gasol said. "My body is feeling more or less OK, but obviously I could use a little bit of rest."
Brown continues to struggle with the pronunciation of the last name of rookie Andrew Goudelock and the first name of recently acquired guard Ramon Sessions.
The correct way to say the names is GOWD-lock and ruh-MON, but Brown started calling Sessions simply "Sesh" so that he wouldn't get it wrong.
Only one problem: That's the name of Sessions' dog, a 6-month-old Staffordshire terrier.
"Really?" Brown said when informed of the dog's name. "Oh, man. I've got to go apologize to him."