After his surgically repaired left knee kept him sidelined for the past 43 days, Lakers forward Derrick Caracter will finally return to the court.
Just not in a Lakers' uniform.
The Lakers assigned him to their Developmeant League affiliate, the D-Fenders, in time to appear in Thursday's game against the Bakersfield Jam. The Lakers sent rookie guard Andrew Goudelock on a D-League assignment during training camp, but Caracter's appearance marks the Lakers' first assignment during the regular season. Under the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, teams can send a player to the D-League up to three times per season.
Caracter, who suffered the injury in the fourth day of training camp on Dec. 12, played a pretty modest role last season, averaging only two points in 5.2 minutes per game in 41 contests. He then had arthroscopic surgery two days later.
Although the Lakers' backcourt hardly has provided much, Caracter's absence has meant little. Aside from his limited production last season, the Lakers' frontcourt already features Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and reserves, Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy. Meanwhile, the Lakers have relied heavily too much on rookie guards Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock because they remain depleted in the backcourt.
Caracter has already made two separate trips to the D-League last season, averaging 8.7 points and six rebounds in 19.7 minutes through three regular-season games with Bakersfield. He also averaged seven points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 21.5 minutes per game in two postseason appearances.
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Photo: Derrick Caracter was little used by the Lakers last season despite the need for a bruising big man. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times