Lakers center Chris Kaman chases after a loose ball during a game against… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
ATLANTA — Chris Kaman is not angry. He says he makes too much money for that to be the case.
He's not happy, though.
The reserve center continues to find himself at the end of the bench during Lakers games. No playing time, no stat line, nothing.
It's not what he envisioned when he signed a one-year, $3.2-million free-agent deal with the Lakers in July.
"I'm just going to take the high road and do the right thing, but it's definitely not what I was told coming in here," he told The Times on Monday. "Obviously, I would have never came here if they had said, 'We're not going to play you at all.' I thought I had a good opportunity coming here.
"It's frustrating and I want to be able to try to help if I can, you know? And I really, truly think I can, but it's not up to me."
Kaman was the only healthy Lakers player not used in a 114-100 loss Monday to Atlanta, the lone member of the "DNP-Coach's Decision" club.
"I can't be [irritated] because I'm getting paid a lot of money to do what I do and I can't complain," said Kaman, an 11-year veteran. "Obviously, as a human being, I have emotions and things. And so there's frustration.
"A lot of people think I'm still hurt, but I assure you I am not still hurt."
Kaman looked fine during exhibition play, forming a nice rapport with Pau Gasol, but then weird things started happening.
He smashed a finger while tobogganing down from the Great Wall of China, a freak occurrence when the sled driven by Shawne Williams hurtled down onto Kaman's toboggan.
He didn't miss any time for that injury but a few days later was sidelined almost a week because of an intestinal illness.
He recovered in time to play the Lakers' first 12 games, averaging 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds until back spasms forced him to miss three weeks.
He returned to action Friday against Oklahoma City, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss. He didn't play Saturday against Charlotte and two days later against Atlanta.
Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni sympathizes with Kaman, continually telling reporters he wants to find him some playing time.
The subject even came up privately when D'Antoni briefly addressed the team a few days ago about an article in The Times in which Gasol said he felt out of place in D'Antoni's offense.
D'Antoni asked players to come to him with problems, not the media, and added that Kaman was the only one who had a legitimate reason to be unhappy.
Did that help soothe Kaman?
"Nah. A lot of talking," Kaman said. "I really just need more action and less talking. That wasn't really about me. That conversation was really about Pau."
Kaman, 31, experienced something like this in Dallas, when he started to lose playing time toward the end of last season.
"I still was playing a little bit — five, seven minutes here and there," he said.
Then he thought of his current zero-minutes situation and added, "I don't know which is worse."
Gasol, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre are ahead of Kaman on the depth chart.