Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol spent the final minutes of practice playing one-on-one with each other on a side basket while their Lakers teammates shot free throws and ran wind sprints.
The results were pretty lopsided in Bryant’s favor. “Not much of a contest,” said Kobe. “I’m a beast on that block.”
The pairs minutes on the floor will be closely monitored this pre-season after both advanced to the gold medal game in last month’s Beijing Olympics. The extra time on the floor in China combined with a trip to the Finals last season has left little time for either to rest.
“I’m just going around this week and seeing how they do, how they feel and seeing their energy level and then we’ll adjust,” said Phil Jackson.
When Kobe Bryant opted against having his pinkie surgically repaired many questioned how it would hamper his game.
When asked what the pinkie currently limits him from doing Bryant answered, “Nothing now because I don’t have the tape on. I can do pretty much everything, I can palm the ball, pretty much anything I want to do.”
Bryant indicated that there is pain when the pinkie gets hit, but that it’s only temporary. The tape that he wore last year to strengthen the pinkie won’t be required this season after a summer of strengthening exercises.
Luke Walton participated in some aspects of today’s opening of training camp, but there is still no timetable for his full return to action.
Walton had ankle surgery in mid-July to remove bone spurs and scar tissue and to clean up some cartilage debris from his right ankle.
Head coach Phil Jackson indicated that Walton stayed in for the first two-thirds of today’s practice session, but could still be a week away from being able to fully participate.
Audio from Training Camp Day 1 – 9/30/08
This morning Head Coach Phil Jackson sat down with reporters for the first time since exit meetings.
Jackson covers a myriad of topics from last season’s finish, Kobe’s extended summer and what is to come with the purple & gold this season. (26:09)
The newest Lakers guard will not be ready for the beginning of training camp after being diagnosed with mononucleosis Wednesday night.
Sun Yue, who arrived from China on Sunday, was taken to the emergency room the same day as his introductory press conference.
Yue will be monitored by the team, but no timetable has been set for his return to the floor.
Read the press release here
You can check out the video and some notes here, but if you just want to listen to yesterday’s press conference with Sun Yue, here ya go.
With training camp around the corner the Lakers took another step toward filling out their roster as they re-signed Center DJ Mbenga.
Mbenga bounced around last season, first going to training camp with the Dallas Mavericks and then playing the first part of the season with the Golden State Warriors.
After signing multiple ten-day contracts with the Lakers, Mbenga was brought aboard in January for the remainder of the season, appearing in 26 regular season games and seven postseason games.
The Lakers roster now stands at 19.
Sun Yue is currently meeting with the local media. We’ll have pictures & video from the event coming later.
UPDATE: Here’s the link to the video and some bullet points.
With training camp just three weeks away, the Lakers made a move towards filling out their roster as they signed former San Diego State Aztec guard Brandon Heath.
Heath spent last season in France playing for Entente Orleans 45 where he averaged 12.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 25 games.
Click here for the full press release