Jackson questions Garnett’s opinion

Times Staff Writer

Putting on the purple and gold, playing under championship banners, standing shoulder to shoulder with superstars was once considered a dream role around the NBA.

Didn’t everybody want to be a Laker?

Not Kevin Garnett. Last week, he told The Times that, despite the fact he has a home in Malibu, he didn’t want to depend on a Lakers front office he saw as ineffective.

Is his a lone voice, or is the perception of a dysfunctional organization, fueled by an off-season of finger-pointing and a failure to make a meaningful move, more widespread, perhaps discouraging other big names from seeking a Lakers roster spot?


Comparing the Lakers to his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who weren’t able to provide him with sufficient help, Garnett, now a Boston Celtic, said, “I knew I didn’t want to deal with that. I didn’t want to duplicate that. I didn’t want to mimic that.”

After practice Saturday , Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was asked if he thought Garnett’s criticism was an isolated case.

Jackson said it wasn’t even a solid case.

“Where did he get his information from?” Jackson said. “What does [his] statement mean? Does he even know our organization?. . . . I don’t think anybody has a better winning record as an owner than Jerry Buss. . . . He doesn’t want to win? I just kind of brush that off as not understanding the situation.”

The situation was inflammatory over the summer, especially with Kobe Bryant’s trade demands. The situation cooled but was inflamed again last week when Buss said trade prospects involving Bryant have been explored and remain a possibility.

How are the other Lakers handling such distractions?

Asked about it Saturday, forward Lamar Odom, standing on the Lakers’ practice court, pointed upward to the windows looking down on the floor, windows into the front office.

“We don’t work in those offices up there,” he said. “Our job is down here. This is where we get things done. This is where our togetherness takes place. We still have a job to do. We can’t let that affect how we play. Sometimes how you think can affect how you play.”

So the players don’t even discuss it?

“Not at all,” he said. “It would be wasted energy.”

Forward Vladimir Radmanovic tweaked his neck in practice, but the injury is not considered serious. Sitting out portions of practice were Odom (off-season shoulder surgery), Kwame Brown (off-season ankle and shoulder surgeries) and Maurice Evans (hamstring).