Below are some of the finer points of Phil Jackson’s post-practice media session on Thursday in Minneapolis:
- Jackson weighed in on Andrew Bynum’s potential return, saying that while there is still no date set, he now thinks that the road trip beginning on Dec. 10 at Chicago is at least a feasible goal. Jackson added that Bynum hasn’t been completely comfortable in drills with assistant coach Chuck Person, particularly those that ask him to move laterally like shooting left-handed hooks. Jackson re-iterated what Bynum told us yesterday, saying that “We want this to be right and we want him to last for the whole season … we don’t want to rush this.” At the same time, Jackson said the team “was not backing down” from the team’s original timetable, and he expects Bynum back in practice soon.
- When asked if Jackson thought Kobe Bryant’s legs have looked particularly active of late for a guy that had surgery in the offseason, he explained that yes, limited practice time has helped even at the occasional expense of his shooting stroke: “I thought on Tuesday night in Milwaukee he was maybe rusty even. I didn’t think he shot the ball well, everything was off the drive. But I think he used that game kind of as a practice, and he was able to step up last night and shoot the ball (in Detroit). He hasn’t practiced consistently and that’s one of the values of knowing what we do an how to do it (being veterans), so we’ve been limiting a lot of our activity as we go through this eight-game-in-15-day sequence. He’s benefited a lot from staying off the court, being strong and ready to play, but sometimes his shooting is just not right and he still finds a way to score, still finds something to do for the team.”
- (On if there is a big difference between players playing 35 and 40 minutes, for example): “Over a season, yes. It’s just that drain on your legs. But the real pressure is about in the game stuff, if you have six to eight sequences inside of a minute because there are so many stoppages of play. You’re grinding it out, people are throwing their bodies around on the floor and it gets to resemble playoff basketball for a minute. Those are the things that wear players out. But if a team has an ability to play (a player) 32 or 36 minutes and have the luxury of cruising in at the end, it helps them a lot.”
- Jackson thought the Wolves, Friday’s opponent, had a “purpose” in the second half against the Lakers in L.A., and thought Kevin Love was effective in the center spot and particularly on the offensive glass, while Michael Beasley can hurt teams with his elite scoring on the wing.
- Phil also spent some time talking about his former assistant coach Kurt Rambis, for whom Jackson said he roots not because Rambis was on Jackson’s staff but because he and Rambis are friends. He added that the primary reason more of his former assistants haven’t become head coaches is simply that they were older coaches, exemplified by Tex Winter. He does expect that both Brian Shaw and Chuck Person will be head coaches in the NBA, and would like to see Jim Cleamons get a head coaching job in college if not in the NBA once again.