NBA lockout: Looking at how the players plan to spend their off-season
If a week felt like an eternity, try six months or maybe even a year.
It's unclear how long this NBA lockout is going to last. But it's safe to go on that vacation or run that errand without worrying about what team acquired who during free agency. But that doesn't mean things aren't busy. There's plenty of discussion brewing already on whether NBA players, including Kobe Bryant, should take their talents overseas during a possibly prolonged lockout. As detailed below, it's obvious many of the Lakers have plenty to occupy their time during a long off-season.
Kobe Bryant: It seems like every single day he’s in the news. Of course, that’s understandable given he’s Kobe Bryant. But it’s also a reflection of how busy his off-season has already become. The Times’ Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner reported that Bryant underwent a derivation of platelet rich plasma therapy (PSP), a controversial procedure that entails centrifuging the patient's blood to isolate platelets and growth factors and then then injected them into an injured area to accelerate healing. Bryant announced an initiative with his foundation to fight homelessness. And Bryant, as reported by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, remains open to playing overseas this summer. The possibilities entail joining a barnstorming tour where some of Rob Pelinka’s clients play exhibition games in China, while Turkish club, Besiktas, hopes Bryant will follow Deron Williams’ lead and join the team.
Pau Gasol: He’s spending his off-season in his native Spain where he spent the first portion of the off-season resting and mentally removing himself from a frustrating 2011 playoff performance. But he’s not going to spend the off-season resting like he did last year. Gasol plans to play in the European Championships in Lithuania from Aug. 31 to Sept. 18, partly to immediately rectify the poor playoff showing.
Andrew Bynum: For once, Bynum can enjoy a summer being completely injury-free. So after a short week of vacation in England where he enjoyed the Manchester United-Barcelona Champions league game, Bynum immediately began training in hopes to improve his footwork and reading double teams. Part of that effort has entailed taking boxing lessons to improve his agility and quickness.
Ron Artest: Odds are Artest will have the most active off-season because he never knows how to keep a low profile. During the NBA playoffs, he held weekly sandball tournaments with fans. Artest is in the middle of filming a reality series called “Last Second Shot,” in which he talks with convicts at correctional facilities in hopes they can turn their life around. And beginning Saturday, Artest embarks on a comedy tour where he’ll ….If that’s not enough, Artest has also asked the Los Angeles Superior Court for approval to change his name to Metta World Peace, another initiative in raising mental health awareness.
Naturally, there are concerns that Artest is consumed with everything except basketball. But he has participated in two-hour workouts all off-season. As soon as his exit interview ended, for example, Artest immediately headed to the gym to work on his shooting.
Lamar Odom: As a way to disengage from the outside world, Odom has abstained from watching television and went back East to New York to visit hometown friends. He’s also surely staying busy with his branding efforts with Khloe Kardashian, his product line, Rich Soil, and recently serving as a spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Odom mentioned via Twitter that he returned in mid-June to work on his game.
Derek Fisher: Fisher has the most eventful off-season, but it’s far from enjoyable. As president of the National Basketball Players Assn., Fisher is overseeing efforts in ensuring the players’ union reaches a consensus with the league over a new collective bargaining agreement. But the union and the league are at odds over multiple issues, ranging from how to split up total revenue, guaranteed contracts, a hard cap and revenue sharing.
Steve Blake: After making a brief appearance at Artest’s sandball event in mid-May, Blake said he’s spending most of his summer in Portland, Ore., working on off-season conditioning and shooting.
Shannon Brown: Brown’s off-season has proved both uncertain and inspiring. Uncertain because he opted out of his $2.37-million contract with the Lakers to test free agency. But with an NBA lockout likely to eat into at least part of the season, he won’t know for sure where he’ll ultimately land. Inspiring because he plans on marrying Monica this summer.
Matt Barnes: He exercised his $1.37-million option to stay with the Lakers, hoping that a healthier surgically repaired knee will give him a much better showing than in the 2010-2011 campaign. Signs suggest that he’ll do that. An MRI last month showed that his right knee continues to improve and Barnes is making sure that his knee is fully healthy, unlike the latter part of last season after he tore a lateral meniscus in early January. In addition to his rehab efforts Barnes has some unspecified products launching with his clothing line, Elusion, and running a basketball camp.
Darrius Morris: After being selected with the 41st of the NBA draft out of the University of Michigan, the Windward High product plans to spend most of his time in L.A. working on his game. Since he ended last season shooting only 25% from three-point range, Morris said most of his work will center on improving his outside shot.
Andrew Goudelock: Beyond working out, Goudelock plans to return to College of Charleston to finish up work for his sociology degree.
Devin Ebanks: Ebanks returned to his hometown of Queens, N.Y., with specific instructions on training for the shooting guard spot. He also plans to work out in Washington.
Derrick Caracter - Caracter has worked out in L.A. and in Florida with IMG pro/college training coordinator Dan Barto to continue helping him lose weight and improve conditioning. Caracter has a well-documented history with Barto, but Caracter still appeared in his rookie season without the proper preparation.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: NBA Commissioner David Stern probably will be paying close attention to how the NFL's ongoing labor dispute proceeds through the courts. Credit: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images