Mike Brown to start Derek Fisher -- but not Metta World Peace
The Lakers continue to make moves.
But in this case it has nothing to do with the "big deals" General Manager Mitch Kupchak wanted to make. For the pessimistic, it has everything to do with shuffling the deck of a sinking ship. For the optimistic, it has everything to do with making adjustments and upgrading from within. Or perhaps, a bit of both.
After the Lakers missed out on acquiring Chris Paul, Lakers Coach Mike Brown said he's planning on starting Derek Fisher at point guard because of his experience and locker-room standing, though he stressed it's not a binding decision. What appears more binding involves playing Metta World Peace off the bench. And the player formerly known as Ron Artest loves the idea.
"It's going to be good," said World Peace, who last season averaged a career-low 8.5 points per game in 29.4 minutes per contest. "I get a chance to come in with extra responsibility, which I've had my whole career. It's going to put the other team off balance. When Kobe [Bryant], Pau [Gasol] and [Andrew] Bynum are out, you still have to double-team me. You can't leave me open. At all times on the floor, there will be a threat."
The Lakers sure hope so. They face plenty of uncertainty, regarding what direction the front office will take after shipping Lamar Odom and a second-round pick to the Dallas Mavericks for an $8.9-million trade exception and a first-round pick. Lakers center Andrew Bynum will serve a five-game suspension because of his forearm shove on Dallas guard J.J. Barea in the 2011 playoffs, moving Pau Gasol to center and recently acquired free-agent forward Josh McRoberts to power forward. Meanwhile, Brown said he's considering starting Matt Barnes, Luke Walton or Devin Ebanks at small forward. That, of course, is assuming the Lakers don't trade away more players.
For now, however, there's one more stable position, beyond Kobe Bryant remaining on the team.
"I don't assume one way or the other what's going to happen coming into training camp," Fisher said. "I've never been given or guaranteed anything by any coach."
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Forward Metta World Peace -- yes, formerly Ron Artest -- towels off during the end of the Lakers' first practice on Friday in El Segundo. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / December 9, 2011