Lakers’ Kobe Bryant says it’s ‘realistic’ he will play in exhibition games
So far, after six days of Lakers’ practices and seven sessions in all because of Monday’s two-a-day, Kobe Bryant has practiced only once on his surgically repaired right knee.
And yet Bryant said Thursday it’s “realistic” that he will play in the Lakers’ exhibition games in London on Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Thursday in Barcelona, Spain, against FC Barcelona.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said his plan is to play Bryant for at least eight minutes in the exhibitions.
“It’s about whether I can perform or not,” Bryant said after practice before the Lakers boarded their Thursday afternoon flight to London. “That’s with any game. That’s why I’ve always been real adamant about me not missing games because people come to watch me play. You want to make sure you get out there and play.”
Jackson and Bryant are aware that the fans in Europe will pay good money to watch Bryant and the Lakers because they are the NBA’s showcase team.
Still, the Lakers have to temper that with Bryant’s well-being for the regular season.
“The reality is we want him to be out there on the court to play,” Jackson said. “Whether it’s a six-to-eight-minute run or whether it’s two of them, like 16 minutes in a 48-minute game.”
Bryant got his first and only taste of action this week when he tested his knee during Monday night’s scrimmage.
“It felt fine,” Bryant said. “It felt like I can strengthen up in certain areas, which is what I’ve been working on after that. I haven’t had any swelling [in the knee] at all.”
That conflicts with what Jackson said Tuesday about Bryant, saying his star guard did have “a little swelling [in his knee], obviously.”
The Lakers have scheduled a practice right after they land in London on Friday.
Sometime during those three days before the Monday game in London, Bryant plans on practicing.
“It’s like if I can practice that day, I’ll go out and I’ll practice and then kind of see where and what areas my knee needs to get stronger in,” Bryant said. “So it’s kind of just testing it out.”
Walton, Barnes injured
Luke Walton, who has made it through the training camp without any back problems, suffered a minor strained right hamstring in practice Thursday. “I felt it getting tight, so I shut it down,” Walton said.
Matt Barnes suffered a minor left hamstring strain as well. Both players are listed as day-to-day and did travel with the team to Europe.
Thursday was the last practice at home this week for the Lakers, but Jackson said “some guys were distracted” because they were leaving for Europe.
With the Lakers breaking training camp here, they have to get their stride back in London.
“We have to go over there and find a way to get some progress and not just kind of sidle along and stay in neutral there,” Jackson said.
Tickets for individual Lakers games for this season go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. Pacific and can be purchased at Ticketmaster, online at https://www.ticketmaster.com and by telephone at 1-800-4NBATIX.
There is a limit of four tickets per person per game. The Lakers said there will be 1,000 tickets available for each home game. No tickets can be bought at Staples Center box office Saturday.
The Lakers waived guard Anthony Roberson and center Russell Hicks Thursday, trimming their roster to 16 players.
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