Time to break out the bubble wrap?
You know medical issues are on the front burner when even the coach is wearing a brace, as Phil Jackson was on his right knee Wednesday afternoon in El Segundo. Turns out it's to help relieve a little pressure on the leg, not some zen-like bonding exercise with Andrew Bynum. "Mine's not quite the same level his is," Jackson said with a smile. Besides, to keep up with Drew's latest malady, PJ might need support a little higher up on the body. During Tuesday's preseason win over the Warriors in Ontario, Bynum took some contact on his right shoulder, painful enough to keep him out of practice today. Fortunately, it doesn't seem serious. Right now, the expectation is he'll suit up Thursday in Anaheim.
"My training staff doesn't anticipate anything that would prevent him from playing, but we'll see what it looks like tomorrow," Jackson said.
As for the rest of the walking wounded, Lamar Odom was fine after his return to the court last night, and both Pau Gasol and Luke Walton practiced. Jackson says assuming they don't develop any complications from today's run they'll be available tomorrow. Good thing, too, since the absence of so many frontline players has screwed with LA's preseason defense. "Without Pau in there and Luke and Lamar, it's been harder for other guys to really understand the rotations. Last night I thought we started out pretty good, but then we got a little bit sloppy and carried away with the joy of being up ten or twelve points, and that contributed to some easy baskets by Golden State," Jackson said.
At least mistakes aren't a question of commitment. "Overall I think our defense is intense, and that's the good part of it."
Jackson said Walton looked good in practice today, and hasn't really fallen behind (it's not like the dude doesn't know the program). He said he'd likely give both Walton and Adam Morrison each a night of substantial run over the final two preseason games.
-I realize the regular season is yet to begin, but the new clubhouse leader in the Question Presented to a Laker Guaranteed to Only Get One Kind of Answer has a chance to hold the top spot through June. Gasol was asked if he's seen any difference in Kobe Bryant, particularly regarding signs of decline. "He's still very, very hungry. I think he's in a very good place. We really don't have to worry about him," he replied. All very true, but let's say Pau noticed a few things about 24 that have slipped since his arrival. That the dude was on the way down. A shell of his former self. Do you really think he'd say that out loud? To the assembled media? Really? Can you imagine that headline?
-Walton said he felt good after practice, save the loss of some stamina. "That'll come back. I just had to shut it down pretty much completely for a week, which can make the legs get a little heavy on you," he said. It was again brought up that things were going well for him until Jackson noted how Walton had made his way through camp without getting hurt. "The messed up thing was I had a real good practice that day. I came in here, laid down, tried to get up, and it was like "Oh (wow), I can't really move right now." Walton said he's felt better over the last three or four days and he wanted to play, but the training staff kept him on the sidelines just to make sure any lingering issues went away. Reminded that the season is a marathon and not a sprint (meaning in October he should understand the need to sit until totally healthy), Walton just shrugged and smiled. "I'm still a dumb athlete. I want to play. You sit around and all your friends are playing every day, and you're on the sidelines doing (trainer) Alex McKechnie work (is no fun). Hearing his same stories over and over, the same jokes."
-Gasol's hamstring has been treated with equal caution. He also noted the loss of a little wind, but otherwise feels okay. Ironically, the rest he's had over the last week or so is about as much as he's had all year. It can't hurt, that's for sure.
-It was a particularly crowded house for an otherwise nondescript Wednesday practice, in part because HGTV was here filming a segment with Ron Artest and Lamar Odom for a new show called "Design School" that debuts next summer. In this installment, a group of FIDM students were recruited to design a piece of furniture for LA's forward tandem. I saw the mock ups, and while Artest's is a tasteful, understated, and extremely comfortable (and large, given the size of the sitter) looking thing, Odom's is... very Lamar. He wanted, I was told, "leather and a king-like throne." The result was a large, appropriately regal looking number with a back sweeping up and forward, curving towards the arms as it rises. Looks plush, too. And it comes with an ottoman. And his number will be upholstered into the chair. And the ottoman. Sounds about right, right?
PJ, talking about Bynum's defense, and team D generally:
Gasol, talking about how the motivation for winning may not be exactly the same this season than last when the team used the memory of the Boston series as a collective fuel, but are equally powerful. Notice how he'll reference the championship banners, and I subtly pan left to include the most recent banner in the shot. That's cinematography.