LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni is still trying to settle on a starting lineup and a consistent rotation four games into the season, and Chris Kaman hopes he settles on one soon that has him playing more minutes alongside Pau Gasol.
"It's not easy, but I want to be patient with Coach because he's a good guy and he's been straight with me," Kaman said after the Lakers' 105-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. "We've talked and he's said, 'Hey, I want to get you in there more, but I'm trying to do everything.' It's hard to make everybody happy and do your job and win. There's a lot going on there for him."
Kaman played 16 minutes off the bench Sunday and had 10 points and five rebounds.
"He made shots" D'Antoni said. "I thought he played pretty well. I know he wants to play more minutes and that's only natural, but that's kind of the way it's going to be for a while until something happens. We have a lot of guys and everybody is going to have to produce when they can. It's not the easiest thing in the world. I'd love to give guys more minutes, but if I give him more minutes, I'm taking them away from someone else. I think everybody right now deserves a shot at it."
Kaman missed 10 days after the team returned from China this preseason because of salmonella and is still working his way back into the rotation after finding a comfort zone in the front court playing with Gasol.
"I want to be patient, but it is frustrating when you play 13, 12, 18 [minutes]. I want it to be consistent," Kaman said. "At the same time I'm willing to be patient and trust Coach to figure it out and we'll see how it goes.
"I would like to play [with] Pau a little bit more and get a rhythm going. I thought we played well in the preseason and I kind of went back to that. I know I had salmonella for 10 days and it was tough for me, but I thought we played well in the preseason and I want to play more minutes with him. ... We'll see. I don't make that call. I think Coach D'Antoni notoriously likes a smaller four-man who can shoot the ball to stretch the floor and open up space for the drives and kicks and penetration."
Gasol said he enjoyed playing with Kaman as well but understood Kaman's illness set him back and that Jordan Hill is also vying for more playing time in the front court.
"It would have been interesting if he didn't get sick for that week," Gasol said. "That would have changed things and we probably would have kept playing and he would have started, but he got sick. I'd also like to see Jordan get more minutes too because Jordan is working his butt off. He's really hustling We don't always have to play with a 4 who's small."
Kaman came to the Lakers this offseason after signing a one-year contract worth the Lakers' mini-midlevel exception amount of just under $3.2 million. He started 56 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season, averaging 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds. He had hoped to start alongside Gasol with the Lakers this season, which still might happen. In the meantime, he's going to continue talking to D'Antoni while staying patient and hoping to get his chance sooner rather than later.
"I don't want to make it harder for him than it already is," Kaman said. "I just want to do my job and not complain and be copacetic about it and take it in stride because there are 78 more games to go. There's a long way to go. If we want to be successful we all have to be together. We can't complain and gripe and go behind people's backs and shoot people in the back of the head when they're not looking. It's not going to work that way. That's not a team. That's not how it works."