Farmar likely starting point guard upon his return

ATLANTA -- Don’t get too used to Kobe Bryant as the Lakers' point guard. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Monday that Jordan Farmar would “probably” start at point guard when he is able to return to the court.

Farmar has missed five games after suffering a torn left hamstring in a December 1 loss to Portland, but has already resumed shooting and basketball-related activities. He will be re-evaluated after the Lakers return from their four-game road trip on Wednesday.

D’Antoni deferred any official projections to the Lakers training staff, but said Farmar was “pretty close” to returning. Farmar was averaging 9.2 points and 4.4 assists in 18.9 minutes before he was injured.

If he indeed does become the Lakers' starting point guard when he returns -- Steve Blake and Steve Nash remain out with injuries -- that means Bryant will slide back into his normal role on the wing. The Lakers had planned to use Bryant more as a forward, until the injuries to Farmar and Blake (elbow) pressed him into point guard duty.

One thing that won’t change though, is the difference in the way the starting unit will play compared to the reserves.

D’Antoni said he expects Bryant and Pau Gasol to play a two-man game when they’re on the court together because each are so good at creating their own shots.

The second-unit needs to create shots “collectively.”

“Yeah, just naturally,” D’Antoni said of how the starting unit will function differently with Gasol and Bryant. “They have to. Kobe’s a hell of a shot creator and so is Pau. So they’ll play one way. And then that other group is going to have to do it collectively. Hopefully we can get that started a bit more.

“They’re going to play distinctly a little bit different until we get guys back and completely legs under us and get poing guards back in there to even it out a little bit.”

ESPN reported on Saturday that while they prefer to keep Gasol, the Lakers have had to weigh trading the Spaniard again, after his struggles on the court and recent comments about feeling frustrated with his role in D’Antoni’s system.

Gasol said he’s taking the latest round of speculation in stride.

“I’m used to it by now,” he said. “It’s been three years since that trade went down, for Chris Paul, so it’s been a constant thing for me. It’s like getting up from bed and having breakfast.

“It means that I’m wanted. If no one wanted me, I wouldn’t be in trade rumors.”