Josh McRoberts could start at power forward
His first day on the job was so regimented that Josh McRoberts didn't have much time to eat.
He arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday at midnight, shortly after the Lakers agreed to sign him to a two-year, $6.2-million deal. After a physical at 7 a.m. and a practice at 10, he promptly fell asleep. He managed to fit in an omelet during the day, but that was about it.
Thursday should be better, and the Lakers can't wait to work him into the rotation. Coach Mike Brown and forward Pau Gasol lauded McRoberts' scrappiness that led to a career-high 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game while shooting 54.7% from the floor last season with Indiana.
The Lakers' frontcourt depth remains depleted with Andrew Bynum serving a five-game suspension, Lamar Odom's trade to Dallas and Derrick Caracter's expected 4-6 week absence because of left knee surgery. Despite missing the first five days of training camp, Brown acknowledged that McRoberts might be the best option to start at power forward, while Gasol slides to center, for the first five games.
"He could start for us on Christmas Day," said Brown, who first met McRoberts at Carmel High School in Indiana, when Brown was an assistant coach at Indiana University. "Who knows what will happen? But he's a young guy that in my opinion has established himself as an NBA player. Not quite a starter, but definitely a rotation player."
McRoberts, for one, made it clear he's not replacing Odom. Odom proved to be an excellent ballhandler who often drove to the basket. McRoberts sets more screens, shows a decent mid-range jumper and often scraps for points at the rim, for rebounds and loose balls.
"Nobody is really going to fill that role, I don't think," said McRoberts, who will wear No. 6. "That's not something I'm looking to do. It's not something I'm looking to put myself pressure on myself to do."
No this doesn't exactly constitute the "big move" Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak hoped he'd land. But it's still an important one. Brown envisions him playing "serious minutes." And for a front line that needs all the help it can receive, this is at least a start.
"A good guy to have on your team," Gasol summed up.
And to do that, McRoberts will have to adjust quickly. Catching up on five days of missed training camp includes receiving and studying Brown's DVDs and getting into shape.
"I'm going to play hard and bring my best effort every night," McRoberts said. "I like to play winning basketball. I'm not a stat guy. You're not going to be blown away if you look at my stats."
— Mark Medina
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