Phil Jackson plans to play Kobe Bryant in limited fashion in European exhibition games
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he plans to limit guard Kobe Bryant anywhere between eight to 16 minutes per game when the team begins its exhibition schedule in London on Oct. 4 against the Minnesota Timberwolves and in Spain on Oct. 7 against Regal FC Barcelona.
"We want him to be out there on the court and play," Jackson said following Thursday's practice in El Segundo. "Whether it's a six-to-eight minute run, or two of them, that's what I'd prefer."
When told of Jackson's plan, Bryant simply said, "That's realistic." Although he considers exhibitions to simply be "practice games," Bryant said he's well aware that European fans will want to see one of the league's best players on the floor.
"It's all about whether I can perform or not and play," Bryant said. "That's with any game. That's why I've always been very adamant about not missing games. People spend their hard-earned money to come watch me play. You want to make sure you get out there and play."
Thursday's practice preceded the Lakers' flight to London today at 5 p.m., and Jackson said the team appeared distracted because of the upcoming trip. Hamstring issues sidelined Luke Walton (right) and Matt Barnes (left), but the team considered their injuries to be minor. Bryant sat out, as didAndrew Bynum, who's traveling to Europe because the team's trainers will be there but is resigned to doing only his rehab efforts. Meanwhile, the Lakers waived Anthony Roberson and Russell Hicks, trimming down to 16 players.
Jackson worries the trip might negate the team's development.
"We have to go over there and find a way to get some progress," Jackson said, "and not sidle along and stay neutral here."
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org