Lakers’ Kobe Bryant: Wrist ‘should be fine’ for him to play in opener
Kobe Bryant expects to play in the Lakers’ season opener Sunday against Chicago, saying his right wrist “should be fine.”
Bryant sustained a torn ligament while trying to break his fall in Monday’s exhibition game against the Clippers.
He said the wrist was still “swollen and painful” Thursday but added, “It’s always been in my nature to try to figure out a way to play.”
The Lakers officially list him as day-to-day.
Bryant fired up a few left-handed free-throw and three-point attempts before an exhibition game Wednesday against the Clippers. He did not take part in Thursday’s practice and said he would “probably” shoot right-handed Sunday.
Bryant sustained a torn lunotriquetral ligament, which stabilizes two small bones on the outer part of the wrist. He would use a padded device on the wrist in Sunday’s game.
“It’s not really going to heal. The ligament’s gone. There’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “But I’ve dealt with so many hand injuries I should be all right.”
In December 2009, Bryant sustained a fractured right index finger six weeks into the season and continued to play, but it hurt for several minutes whenever the finger got hit in a game.
The Lakers won the championship that season and Bryant was the Finals MVP.
Bryant spoke mostly in a monotone Thursday, fielding a little more than two minutes’ worth of questions before saying, “Last damn hand question.”
If he underwent surgery on the wrist, Bryant would miss about four months, the length of the truncated NBA season. The Lakers’ last regular-season game is April 26 at Sacramento.
The Lakers begin the season with three games in three days, following up Sunday with games Monday at Sacramento and Tuesday at home against Utah.
Beyond Bryant’s injury update, it was an unusual day at the Lakers’ training facility, Phil Jackson stopping by to see longtime girlfriend and team executive Jeanie Buss.
Jackson was walking Buss’ dog, Princess, and carrying an armload of holiday gifts before he slipped out the door, eventually headed north to Yosemite to be with family.
He seemed happy, his sharp humor intact as he chastised a reporter for not sending him a Christmas card.
There were some not-so-jolly issues to address, including Metta World Peace
He hasn’t exactly jumped into his role as a post-up scorer on the Lakers’ second unit, missing all eight of his shots in the exhibition opener and missing nine of 13 in Wednesday’s game. That’s 19% accuracy so far.
“I just said, ‘Hey Metta, if you’re going to shoot that much, you’ve got to make them,’ ” Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. “He said it was just taking him a little bit of time to get a rhythm coming off the bench, which I understand and I respect. I have faith in him.”
Brown had still not decided who would start at small forward Sunday: feisty veteran Matt Barnes or second-year player Devin Ebanks.
Barnes was still stewing a day after picking up a flagrant foul for shoving Clippers forward Blake Griffin.
“He’s a special athlete. One of the best athletes I’ve ever seen. But all the flopping is unnecessary,” Barnes said. “That’s the way he plays and it works. They called it so you can’t be mad at him for it.”
Griffin had 30 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the Clippers’ 108-103 victory, which was a little too celebratory for Barnes’ taste.
“Yeah, they’re catching lobs and dunking. But it’s just a preseason game,” Barnes said. “If you make a dunk, act like you’ve done it before. [Griffin] has got hundreds of them. There’s no need for the hurrah after every single dunk. It’s unnecessary.”
Barnes had three points and four fouls against the Clippers.
The Lakers waived Malcolm Thomas, Elijah Millsap, Zach Andrews, Gerald Green and Chris Daniels. Green was the only one of the group with legitimate NBA experience.
Rookie guards Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris are still on the team, meaning the Lakers’ roster stands at 15 players, the NBA maximum.
Goudelock, Morris, Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks have contracts that don’t become guaranteed until Feb. 10.
Times correspondent Mark Medina contributed to this report.