Lakers' off-season workouts crucial for 2011-12 season
The official NBA calendar indicates training camp won't take place within the next month. That doesn't mean Laker players can't organize one themselves.
But at this point, co-captains Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher haven't finalized any plans on organizing such workouts.
"It's possible," Fisher said in late July. "If we get into late September and there doesn't seem to be any major progress going on, I think it's possible."
That time needs to come sooner rather than later.
In most cases, a veteran-laden team such as the Lakers could scoff at off-season workouts, much like the NFL's Green Bay Packers did in their off-season before bursting out of the gate to a 3-0 start. But with the Lakers facing adjustments to a new coach, a different offensive system and two rookies, these are different circumstances.
To be fair, Bryant and Fisher have both indicated at certain points this off-season that they plan to hold such sessions should the NBA lockout persist. The team was originally scheduled to open training camp Oct 4.
There are plenty of logisitical issues to consider. Fisher is overseeing negotiations as the National Basketball Players Assn. president. Bryant is currently in Italy. Forward Pau Gasol plans to remain in his native Spain during the NBA lockout. Center Andrew Bynum has spent most of his summer in Atlanta. Forward Metta World Peace (nee Ron Artest) still remains open to playing overseas for the British Basketball League's Cheshire Jets. Forward Luke Walton is in Memphis where he will serve as a University of Memphis assistant coach until the lockout ends. Rookie guard Andrew Goudelock plans to spend most of his fall finishing up his degree at College of Charleston.
But as Fisher readily acknowledged, "There are a number of guys in or around the Southern California area where we might be able to get together."
It's crucial that Bryant and Fisher formally organize an unofficial training camp, because one of the variables that led to last season's unraveling pointed to the lack of intense practices due to numerous injuries. With the NBA lockout forbidding players to access their team facilities or contact coaches, the Lakers won't be able to address that area, however, unless the players act on their own accord.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times