Lakers’ Walton surprised at backup role

Jackson says Turiaf will start at power forward and Odom at small forward. What are your thoughts? Sound-off in the comments!

O.C. Register: After the productive season Luke Walton had and the big contract he signed, he had every reason to think he had settled in as the Lakers’ starting small forward.

So there was bewilderment on Walton’s face when he was told by a reporter Friday that Coach Phil Jackson plans to start Ronny Turiaf at power forward, with Lamar Odom at small forward and Walton coming off the bench.

Asked if he had informed Walton, Jackson said: “No.” Then he smiled and added: “He’s OK with it.”

Walton was — reluctantly — OK with it. His responses included “I mean, what am I going to do?” and “I would like to start. I’m not going to pout if I don’t.”

Last season, Jackson envisioned Walton, with his knack for team play, anchoring the Lakers’ second unit. But Vladimir Radmanovic never earned a starting spot and Walton emerged. When asked if Jackson wants Walton to be his reserve anchor again, Jackson replied: “Sure do. I know that we have to have starters coming off the bench to be a good team.”

So even though Radmanovic (who signed a five-year, $30 million deal in July 2006) and Walton (who signed a six-year, $30 million deal in July) are around, it is Turiaf (making $770,610 this season) about whom Jackson said, “I plan on starting him.”

Added Jackson: “He’s a guy who can bring energy to the game and the kind of start we need to have in kind of a physical front.”

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Jaime is the co-owner and Operating Director for LakerNation.com from Alhambra, CA. He's help create the official websites for Kevin Durant and Goodwin Sports. Currently, he's the Online Producer for FOX Sports Radio and AM570 KLAC.
  • MacBSlick

    I think a lot of this has to do with PJ not wanting Odom banging with PFs of this league. Odom and Walton rotating at the SF position will probably be best for this team anyways. Odom is a mismatch at that position for most teams. Ronny and Possibly Brown or Mimh at the PF will work as long as Brown and Mimh both stay healthy which is what I think PJ is thinking about. Health is a major issue for this group. PJ doesnt want a repeat of last year.
    Also his remark about Socks conditioning is a good sign. If the kid gets the start at center and PJ rotates Brown and Mimh at the center and PF position behind Ronny We might keep these guys on the floor all season. I think Phils thinking long term (keeping guys healthy) this year. In other words no weird rotations like last season.
    Keep them strong PJ!

  • MacBSlick

    Thinking about it some more Pj could also add the Rad Man into the PF SF mix. Rad can pull the PFs away from the basket with his 3 point shooting and he would make that SF position along with Odom and Walton even stronger.
    Has anybody heard anything about Cookie? He could make a big difference at the PF position if hes worked on his defense during the offseason. With him and Rad keeping those bigs away from the basket it would open up the middle big time.

  • TheLAunit

    now that Luke is coming of the bench and Ronny is starting this means Odom can play his real position and be the Pippen of the lakers…..Good Job Phil!!

  • Michael_23

    This will be interesting. Luke being surrounded by the 2nd unit … If he does come from the bench he will be relied to become a primary/secondary scorer. He also will be dishing out passes. Problem is, will this 2nd unit be making their shots?

    As long Luke is happy and accepts his role, we have a deep team. Remember Luke … Fish, Fox, Horry, were starters before and they took a backseat coming off the bench. And it came to much success.

  • lakerfan81

    Even if Ronni starts I would suspect that There will be a lot of times when Walton and Odomm are both out on the floor at the same time.

  • k0be da 1 andonly

    you guys spelled “deserves” wrong on the poll lol

  • Tim-4-Show

    The way I see it, this is primarily a defensive situation. Luke has always brought a certain intangible quality to the squad, but he has also brought a defensive liability that’s plainly obvious.

    If the Lakers are concentrating on defense this year (which would be a great thing), then this idea to have Luke coming off the bench makes perfect sense. As Mac pointed out above, this also gives LO a chance to slide to the 3 where he’ll be much more potent because of mismatches.

    As for Cookie, I haven’t heard anything about his summer. I do know what he told reporters at his exit interview regarding his off season plans and where he wanted to improve. It had NOTHING to do with defense and I was left with the impression that Cookie should be traded in the off season (which didn’t happen despite that great rumor of Luther Head coming to LA for Cook).

    My impression of these recent articles regarding Turiaf starting is that they are reporting on PJ’s speculation. PJ hasn’t flat out said that Turiaf is starting, unless I’ve missed something here. The only starters that are carved in stone are Kobe & Lamar, and I think this is what PJ has been reflecting upon. What you’re witnessing these past few days in the papers is more attempts to create drama with the Los Angeles Lakers. It seems everywhere we look, there’s Bucher or Simers or some other hot shot wannabe trying to create and then report on drama.

    Why?

    It sells papers.

  • ab4sure

    PJ is just trying to let Turiaf earn a nice fat contract so that he could stick it to Jim Buss and make the Lakers pay more of a luxury tax. Just kidding…some of you might have believed I was serious…actually Walton knows or will know that it is not the person who starts the game but the one who finishes. Walton will be in there at the end of the game because you want execution and guys who can pass and make plays and the end of the game…and of course those who can play off Kobe in crunch time. You will see Fish, Kobe, Walton, and hopefully LO at the end of the game…the other spot depends on the whim of Zenmeister…PJ.

  • ab4sure

    kobeda1andonly, You’re HIRED!!!! CONGRATULATIONS…YOU WERE THE FIRST PERSON WHO FOUND THE SPELLING ERROR. There was a contest for the job and since you were the first one who noticed the error you get the position at Lakernation. Please call the NUGGET..for more info about your new job.

  • ab4sure

    just messin with you kobe…

  • fatty

    So, this is what PJ is talking about?

    Center – ??????
    PF – Ronny
    SF – Odom
    SG – Kobe
    PG – Fisher?

    Interesting. Looks like it has Rambis’s signature attached to it. Energy guy to start. And still have energy guy Ronny timely off the bench during the game. For PJ to be considering this tells me, Ronny has really improved his game this summer to PJ’s satisfaction.

    Luke admirers don’t fret. He will get plenty of good time with the starters. Jackson loves his game and like it was said, at the end of the game, I could see Luke getting quality time.

  • fatty

    One more thought. So, its really Odom moving to the 3 that’s bumpimg Luke to the bench at the beginning of the game.