Kobe Bryant tiptoes in and out before all arrive for Lakers’ practice
The doors opened to Lakers practice and the media spilled onto the sidelines to watch a bunch of players shooting, none of them named Kobe Bryant.
Turned out he had done a little work earlier.
Bryant is now shooting without jumping, the latest step in his return from a torn Achilles’ tendon. There’s still no timetable for his return, and he hasn’t started to run on the court.
For now, he’s simply Set Shot Bryant.
“He’s just going up on his tiptoes,” Coach Mike D’Antoni said Wednesday. “I don’t think he was jumping. It wasn’t flat-footed, but it was set shooting.”
Bryant hasn’t spoken to reporters since last Saturday and is required to give interviews only once a week while injured, as per NBA rules.
It’s unlikely he’ll play any of the Lakers’ eight exhibition games, and his status remains unclear for the season opener Oct. 29 against the Clippers.
“As soon as he can be ready, he’ll be ready,” D’Antoni said.
Gasol adapting quickly
Pau Gasol didn’t do anything active for three months while recovering from a knee procedure and started running only a few weeks ago, but D’Antoni is impressed with his conditioning.
“Pau is way ahead of what I thought he might be coming back from surgery. He’s playing really well,” D’Antoni said.
“I thought coming off injury that he’d sit down half a practice, maybe skip practice — he’s done everything, all the time. And he’s been sharp.”
Gasol, 33, missed 33 games last season, primarily because of knee and foot issues.
“I thought I was going to be more limited too,” said Gasol, who cautioned he felt rusty and had committed too many turnovers so far in training camp.
He’s hoping for a bounce-back season after posting career-lows in scoring average (13.7 points) and shooting accuracy (46.6%).
The four-time All-Star was not selected to the Western Conference team last season.
“That’s definitely one of my goals, to be an All-Star again and get back to that status,” Gasol said. “I need to play at a high level and the team also needs to win games to be able to get that recognition.”
Less than two weeks after the Lakers’ season ended in April, Gasol underwent a procedure to reduce chronic soreness in his knees.
A large needle emitted ultrasound waves to help remove degenerative tissue and break up calcifications. Then stem cells were extracted from the back of his hip and injected into his knees to promote regeneration of healthy tissue.
Lakers newcomer Nick Young has a fun, loose personality, a welcome addition to a team that seemed a little too uptight last season.
Young’s even poking fun at Bryant.
“I’ve been talking trash to him a little bit to get out there,” Young said. “I’m just waiting for him to get out there so I can go at him, you know, stop dodging me.”
Don’t get Young wrong. He’s not delusional.
“I can talk trash now because he can’t do nothing right now,” Young said. “He’s saying he’s been watching me and I only go right or something like that. He’s studying me right now.”
Young signed a two-year deal with the Lakers after playing for three teams in six NBA seasons. The second year of the contract is Young’s option for a relatively low $1.2 million.
Times staff writer Melissa Rohlin contributed to this report.
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