Vujacic just wants to stay

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “I came here to play NBA, to play in the best league possible in the world, and to play for one of the best coaches in the NBA,” Vujacic said. “I don’t know what will happen, but hopefully I will stay here.” Vujacic spent hours working on his shooting in the summer, but the results have yet to be seen. He missed every shot he took in the Lakers’ final two games last season and shot 28.2 percent for the year. A D-League assignment would be especially disappointing for Vujacic because he came to the NBA before the league approved of such an arrangement in its new collective bargaining agreement. Not so funny: Though Jackson jokingly referred to the Lakers (average age 25) as an “expansion team” before Friday’s game, it wasn’t such a laughing matter when the Lakers trailed the second-year Bobcats late in the third quarter. The Bobcats were playing without their four top players. Emeka Okafor (back spasms), Raymond Felton (wrist), Sean May (knee surgery) and Gerald Wallace (wrist) all were sidelined. Early in training camp, Lakers coach Phil Jackson spelled out second-year guard Sasha Vujacic’s role as being a “specialty shooter” off the bench. So far, though, there’s been nothing special about Vujacic’s shooting in the exhibition season. Vujacic is shooting 1 for 14 (7.1 percent) and missed the lone 3-pointer he took in Friday’s 109-93 victory against Charlotte at Staples Center. He played only nine minutes and had his dribble stolen by Brevin Knight in the second quarter. “He’s still conscious that he has to hurry his shot, so we’re trying to get him to relax a little bit,” Jackson said. “He’s still a young kid that we want to keep nurturing and keep bringing along.” But Jackson added the Lakers have talked about having Vujacic play for their Fort Worth, Texas, affiliate in the NBA Development League. It is not something the 21-year-old Vujacic would welcome. center_img Jackson made one potentially significant change to his rotation, playing Devean George with the starters to open the second half and sending out Chris Mihm with a second unit of Aaron McKie, Jumaine Jones, Devin Green and Laron Profit in the fourth quarter. Mihm bounced back from a foul-plagued game Thursday with 14 points and six rebounds, fouling out Jake Voskuhl and Melvin Ely on consecutive baskets in the fourth quarter. And Jackson said playing with the second team can benefit Mihm. “He has to underplay his skill at times,” Jackson said, “because he’s always trying to compensate, get out of Kobe’s way so he has isolation, help Lamar (Odom) or whatever, and the two of them, Kwame (Brown) and Chris, haven’t really found a way to play comfortably together yet.” If Mihm moved to the second team, the Lakers would have to play Brown at center and Odom at power forward. Jackson also has said he would like to bring George off the bench. Mihm said the starting five Jackson has used so far is capable of being productive. “I enjoy playing with that first team,” Mihm said. “I think we just really haven’t gotten things clicking yet, and I think as time goes along, we will.” Bynum update: There’s a chance rookie center Andrew Bynum will be able to celebrate his 18th birthday by playing in the Lakers’ final exhibition this coming Friday against Sacramento in Las Vegas. Bynum was re-examined Friday and found to have made “significant progress” in his return from an abdominal strain and has been cleared to practice Monday. Bynum suffered the injury on the fourth day of training camp. Ross Siler, (818) 713-3610 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more