Practice gets better for Bryant
Trust issues for the Lakers? Indeed.
Kobe Bryant answered “not much” when asked how much he trusted his surgically repaired right knee.
“It’s difficult turning the corner, being able to trust it, to be able to pivot and explode off it,” he said Sunday. “It’s still a little sore.”
Bryant has told Lakers Coach Phil Jackson he will play in Tuesday’s season opener against Phoenix, and he called Sunday’s scrimmage his best so far during his rehabilitation from mid-July arthroscopic surgery. He was able to elevate better, jumping for rebounds more readily than any other time since the procedure.
But there are still issues with planting and cutting, obvious prerequisites for Bryant’s game.
“You kind of put your foot in the water to see if it’s cold, like trying to turn the corner but not really trying to turn the corner and then seeing what that feels like,” he said. “If it’s like, that felt OK, so next time I can turn it a little sharper, a little quicker. Just trying to gauge it like that.”
Jackson, for his part, will rely primarily on one source to determine Bryant’s playing status -- Bryant himself.
“He’ll let me know as to how it goes out there,” Jackson said. “He’s not, by his own admission, sharp, not making great plays or passes yet.”
Lamar Odom received a fairly large vote of confidence on Sunday.
“I believe Lamar could be as good as he wants to be,” team owner Jerry Buss said. “He comes within one or two statistics half the time of having a triple-double. You have to wonder if he wanted to do it, just to get one more assist or another rebound or something, finish up the year with about 40 triple-doubles, then I think everybody would know what Lamar Odom’s all about.
“I know that’s what the coaches try to get him to do, to be more aggressive, take the role. I think Lamar definitely can do it.”
Odom averaged 14.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists last season.
Vladimir Radmanovic, the main beneficiary of the Lakers’ off-season shopping, made only 10 of 36 shots (27.8%) in exhibition play, primarily because of a sprained ligament between the pinkie and ring finger of his right hand, an injury that probably will require surgery after the season.
“Vlade has yet to really give us the kind of lift we expect from him,” Jackson said. “He’s been injured. It’s affected his play. He’s got to really step up. [Saturday], he had a great practice, and it was good to see.”
The Lakers are expected to waive second-year forward Devin Green in order to get their roster down to 15 players by today’s league-mandated deadline.
Green made the team last season as an undrafted rookie from Hampton.
Buss will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today at noon.
“A lot of time, I try to shy away from things like that,” Buss said. “But this particular one, I guess because I spent a lot of my time walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard a long time ago, and I thought, ‘Wow, wow, to have a star’ ... it has a special significance to me.”