LOS ANGELES -- Lakers minority owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has his hands full working as a professor at UCLA and developing a pending information-sharing technology business but on Sunday he took time out to tweet in support of center Chris Kaman during the Lakers' 92-86 loss to the Bulls: "Chris Kaman, great play what a professional."
Kaman's play against the Bulls (27 points on 13-for-23 shooting, 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks in just 28 minutes) was so good that coach Mike D'Antoni knew he was in trouble for not playing Kaman in 10 out of the Lakers' 15 games in January.
"Get ready to write a nice article and kill me," said D'Antoni.
Kaman is averaging 19 points and 7 rebounds in his last three games, an uptick that coincides with Pau Gasol being sidelined with a right groin injury.
And there's the rub. There is only room for one post player on at a time in D'Antoni's preferred style of play.
"That's the structure of the team," D'Antoni said. "When Pau comes back, it's tough."
"I just want to be professional about it," Kaman said. "It isn't what I anticipated coming here. Obviously I thought I would have an opportunity to play more minutes with Pau as a 4 and 5, but history shows with Coach D'Antoni's style, it's more of a small man's game and I suffer as a result of that.
"It is what it is. I can't really argue with what the guy's saying. I got to trust the position of head coach and that's what I got to do. It's obviously frustrating at times, especially when you're losing a lot. We had that little stretch where it was tough to sit there and watch, knowing that I could help maybe or at least give a little effort to be a part of a change in momentum."
Kaman is not promising 27 and 10 every night, but vows to continue to produce if given the chance.
"I've played in this league a long time, I think you guys can check my track record," said Kaman. "I've been pretty successful in a lot of different areas. So, I think I can play. It's just hard to show what you can do in five and six and seven and 10 minutes. Sometimes that's not a very good way to analyze a player."
D'Antoni has said several times this season that based on the analytics he looks at, the Lakers play better with a floor-spacing big on the floor (such as Kelly or Williams) alongside Gasol, rather than another paint player.
Kaman is not as convinced.
"You have all these statistics out there, but you got to have an opportunity to play a little bit," he said. "Any good player in this league will tell you that."
While Kaman hasn't lost the edge or the confidence in his own ability that it takes to succeed in the NBA, he hasn't let his personal goal sabotage the team atmosphere. He actually served as a pretty good example for Kendall Marshall, who averaged a double-double in 15 starts, but then was relegated to third-string point guard status when Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all returned to the lineup.
"Nash brings a true grit to our team, as well as Blake, so I wasn't upset about that at all," said Marshall, who has averaged 10.7 points and 9.3 assists in his last three games off the bench, accepting his role. "My job is when I'm on the court to help the team the best way that I can."
Kaman would say the same. But he'd rather remain in a position to let his game do the talking.
"When Chris was not in the rotation it was not because of what he did," said D'Antoni. "He's been playing well. Chris Kaman is a very good basketball player. So, we'll try to work it out and try to figure it out somehow."