Lakers Report Cards: Derrick Caracter
The weight continues to hold him back. The off-the-court issues continue to plague him. And his commitment level continues to be questioned.
Derrick Caracter's rookie year was supposed to be another benchmark in the long progression he's made since transferring from Louisville to Texas-El Paso for perceived off-the-court issues. After losing 28 pounds since leaving the Miners, this season was supposed to mark another step in slimming down. And after pledging he'd take advantage of the few opportunities a veteran and front-line-heavy team would afford a 58th pick out of the NBA draft, Caracter failed to take the proper steps.
"I need to work and be ready for the next year," Caracter summed up of his exit interview.
But where to begin. First, the off-court issues are the biggest mistake Caracter could make considering he remains a raw talent and is on the bottom of the Lakers' depth chart. He was arrested at a New Orleans IHOP and was detained and booked under charges of battery, public intoxication and resisting arrest. Then the play itself: Caracter averaged two points on 48.5% shooting in 5.2 minutes a game, showed poor ball-handling, raw post-up abilities and self-admittedly didn't prepare for the little playing time he received. And lastly, his weight: Caracter estimates he weighs 275 to 280 pounds, which means he's on the fringe of his contractual agreement that he'd less than 275 pounds.
He wants to lose 15 to 20 pounds by increasing his cardio work, taking boxing lessons and continuing to consult IMG's Dan Barto. He plans on sharpening his post-up skills. And considering his revelation that there's no pending trial date involving his arrest, Caracter believes he can "clean things up." But he will be the first to admit this means nothing more than empty gestures if he doesn't follow up on them, a theme that he said defined his rookie season.
"I felt I could've helped if I had showed I was ready for the time I got," Caracter said. "I'm disappointed I couldn't have been more of a factor knowing I could've helped. I definitely have the talent to do it. I just didn't execute. No excuses."
Caracter's season wasn't entirely negative. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said multiple times that Caracter hustled in practice. He showed a willingness to engage in the rookie duties, including picking up towels and water bottles. And his two separate stints with the Bakersfield Jam allowed him to sharpen up on the aforementioned needs involving post-up abilities, ball-handling and footwork. But it's head scratching that Caracter spent time in his exit interview lamenting his lack of preparation when he acknowledged in January suffering through the same thing.
He already wasn't going to receive much playing time because of the depth chart above him with Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom logging heavy front-line minutes and because Jackson jokingly equates rookies to whale feces. But his improved preparation could've alleviated some of the Lakers' problems in providing Gasol some relief with Bynum's rehab, Theo Ratliff's rehab and the team's refusal to acquire a backup center already making it difficult. Oftentimes, Caracter could fly under the radar for his laziness. But he didn't do himself any favors from a development standpoint or give the Lakers much of an impression. As Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said, "I'm a little disappointed in Derrick too with the way his season ended."
"Staying true to your word," Caracter said when asked what he needs to improve the most. "If I say I'm going to go do this, then do that. If I say I'm going to work out at a certain time, don't push it back. Come up with a plan and stick to the plan."
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: The Lakers' Derrick Caracter battles Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo and center Eric Boateng for a rebound in the fourth quarter of an exhibition game. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / Oct. 16, 2010