Lakers forward Luke Walton says it has been tough watching the team's… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Reporting from Washington — He has won two championship rings and played in two other NBA Finals.
Luke Walton doesn't know what to do these days.
"This is my ninth year, and this is probably the toughest one," the Lakers forward said.
He's the forgotten man of the Lakers, idling at the end of the bench in the first year of the Mike Brown era.
The Lakers have played 39 games. Walton has appeared in nine, lowest on the team.
"The last couple of years, my back's been hurting so I couldn't really complain about [playing time]. My back actually feels good this year," he said. "Not having an opportunity to help the fellas has been real tough. When we practice and I can hang out with the guys, and travel, everything's great. It's game days where I find it real hard to fall asleep at night. That's when it gets difficult.
"But it's out of my control."
Walton, who turns 32 later this month, is averaging 1.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 7.2 minutes. He approached Brown about his minutes a "couple of times," Walton said.
"He tells me that he likes where we're at and if things change, then maybe my opportunities would change," Walton said. "There's nothing I can really do about that."
The Lakers' lack of ball movement frustrates Walton, who is known as a pass-first player.
"I feel like a lot of the times when we're not playing well, that's what we're not doing," he said. "Our offense gets stagnant. That's why we allow teams that don't have as much talent as us to compete with us. That was my pitch [to Brown] on how I could help this team."
Walton understands that he makes a good living, taking home $5.7 million this season and $5.8 million next season, the final part of the six-year, $30-million contract he signed in 2007 after averaging a career-high 11.4 points.
He'd like to feel he was earning it.
"I want to play, badly," he said. "Basketball is the biggest part of my life and that's what I really, thoroughly enjoy doing."
Morris sent down
Rookie guard Darius Morris was assigned to the Lakers' Development League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
Morris appeared in 13 games with the Lakers, averaging 2.7 points and 1.1 assists.
He has been outplayed by fellow second-round draft pick Andrew Goudelock, a regular in the Lakers' rotation.
Morris still counts as a player on the Lakers' roster, which is at 14 players, one below the NBA maximum. He will continue to earn his NBA salary while with the D-Fenders.