George Getting Closer to a Return
Forward Devean George has increased his conditioning regimen and is expected to start practicing with the team in two weeks.
George, who had surgery on his left ankle in July, has begun running and doing agility exercises to help strengthen muscles in his upper left leg that atrophied while his ankle was immobilized following surgery.
The ankle appears to have stabilized after George had bone spurs and fragments removed and ligaments on the outside of the ankle reconstructed and tightened.
“I feel real good,” said George, who started 48 games last season and averaged a career-best 7.4 points. “In about two weeks, I should be ready to go.”
It has been a frustrating experience for George, who has inevitably fallen behind in picking up the nuances of Rudy Tomjanovich’s offense.
Caron Butler has started in George’s spot at small forward, and Jumaine Jones has been effective backing up Butler.
“It’s been tough,” George said. “I’ve never been hurt. I’ve never had to sit out for any amount of time.”
The Lakers leave today for their longest trip of the first three months, playing four games in five days, an early test that will provide a preview of their road ability.
The Lakers play Tuesday in New Orleans, Wednesday in Memphis, Friday in Orlando and Saturday in Houston.
The Lakers were 22-19 on the road last season and have had a winning road record eight of the last nine seasons, but there are no projections being made for a team with nine new players.
“There is no strategy for what’s coming up,” Tomjanovich said. “Double back-to-backs at this time for a young team, a new team, isn’t the ideal situation.”
After today, the team will have one day of practice this week, Thursday in Orlando.
“I just got done talking with the assistants about how we’re going to do the teaching and breakdowns,” Tomjanovich said. “There’s not even time, even with computerized stuff, to get a lot of the stuff done for the next day, the next morning when you talk to them.”
Some coaches feel it is a gimmick, and Lamar Odom expressed displeasure last week at playing zone defense, but expect more of it from the Lakers, at least in the early going. “We’ll mix it in,” Tomjanovich said. “I think it’s a good rhythm-changer.”
The Lakers shot 38.7% through their first three games, fifth-lowest in the league. Tomjanovich said he wasn’t overly concerned, but noted that “we’re getting a lot of shots blocked.” Opponents averaged a league-best 9.33 blocked shots against the Lakers before Sunday.