- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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It has been six games since Devin Ebanks last appeared in a game for the Los Angeles Lakers. The time frame coincides with the amount of games the team has played since Mike Brown was fired, but the dearth in playing time also started immediately following Ebanks being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Ebanks appeared in four of the Lakers' first five games under Brown to start the season and averaged 2.5 points and 2 rebounds on 23.1 percent shooting in 10.3 minutes per game.
According to Lakers spokesman John Black, Ebanks being benched is a basketball decision, not a disciplinary act. Not only has Ebanks not played in the past six games, he wasn't even dressing for the first three, as Darius Johnson-Odom took his spot on the active roster. Steve Blake's abdominal strain has had Ebanks back in uniform the past three games, at least.
"To my knowledge, it's a basketball decision," Ebanks told ESPNLosAngeles.com before the Lakers hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. "I just still got to remain professional and keep working and be ready for my number to be called."
Ebanks is still being paid while he is out of the rotation, so the benching is not considered a suspension. He is due back in court Dec. 7 to address the DUI charge. A suspension could be levied if Ebanks is found guilty at that time, as is NBA procedure whenever a player faces legal troubles.
"I can't speak on that right now," Ebanks said when asked about the arrest.
Ebanks being out of the lineup has opened up playing time for Jodie Meeks to get a chance as Kobe Bryant's backup at shooting guard. Meeks has not exactly seized the opportunity, averaging just 3.2 points on 28.5 percent shooting in the past six games.
New Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said his decision regarding Ebanks has been a matter of familiarity.
"I don’t know him," D'Antoni said. "In that sense, I haven’t watched him that much. We haven’t really practiced that much, so [you've] got to give me some time to evaluate and see what the team needs. But, obviously, he’s a talent and he’s there and we’ll see going forward. I just couldn’t tell you today what I envision today, because I don’t have that yet."
"I haven't really talked to him personally, really, like one-on-one,” he said of D’Antoni. “I'm sure as the season goes we'll start to talk a little more."
Even though Ebanks is out of the rotation, it's a long season. At some point over the course of the next 71 games he will likely get a second look. Especially if Meeks keeps struggling.
At 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Ebanks has the frame to run the floor in D'Antoni's system. He also has an improved form on his jump shot from working on holding his follow-through, rather than pulling his arms back after his release. But it has yet to show up statistically; Ebanks is shooting just 1-of-5 on 3-pointers this season after going 0-of-9 last season.
"His system is, pretty much, keep the floor spread," Ebanks said. "That's definitely something I like. I need some space to cut, pick-and-rolls. I like his offense so far, just on things he's been running and putting in. I definitely like where he's going."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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