With the NBA taking a league-wide day off, there wasn’t much news to be reported since no major deals have been made just yet (although it looks like Miami is making a hard push to acquire Amar’e Stoudemire). However, there was much good news and a bit of bad news in the Lakers camp on the Monday following the 59th Annual All Star Game. There were reports of both Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum working out and practicing with the team. Bryant missed the Lakers previous three games before the all star break, and Bynum missed the previous two and all but 10 minutes of the game in Portland. Both Bryant and Bynum will suit up and play tonight against the Warriors. Kobe didn’t talk to reporters after practice, but Phil Jackson talked about Kobe’s mobility.
“He said he didn’t have the normal strength he’d like to have, but it’ll come back,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “That’s just getting back in the flow and getting some strength there again, re-conditioning it. He hasn’t played in two weeks so there’s a lot of things that he was trying out and trying to figure out — passes that went awry and shots he was reluctant to shoot — but he’ll come [around].”
Even with the good news about Bryant’s and Bynum’s respective returns, the Lakers were hit with the news that Luke Walton will be out indefinitely with a pinched nerve in his back. Even though Walton hasn’t been the same Luke that I grew to love on the floor in 2008, the Lakers will definitely be able to use his passing ability down the stretch and in the postseason. When Walton was getting his most minutes from PJ, he was brought in after stretches of isolation basketball to get the ball moving from one side to the other. Hopefully this latest setback won’t keep him out for an extended amount of time.
It’s been well reported that the Mavericks have seemingly improved with Caron Butler and Brendon Haywood now on their roster, and this has had Lakers fans wondering if a trade is now imminent. I won’t get into the details that Darius got into yesterday, but Mitch Kuptchak told Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times that a trade is unlikely for the Lakers.
“There is no compelling reason to dramatically change this team, in particular its core,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “We won a championship last year and we feel like we can be as strong this year with the one change we made — the Ron Artest change.
“If this is the team we go into the playoffs with, we’ll be happy with our roster, provided we stay healthy. The caveat, as always, is we’ll look at roster flexibility and areas where we can tweak the roster.”
Also, after the team’s practice, Phil Jackson was interviewed after practice on everything from Kobe, ‘Drew and Walton’s injuries to their upcoming games and their poor practice to the possibility of making a trade. His thoughts of possibly moving anyone mirrored those of Kuptchak’s saying the Lakers won’t be forced to make a deal. And historically, this makes sense. The Lakers seldom make deals around the trade deadline. Since 1997, the Lakers have only made one trade in February, and that was to acquire Pau Gasol. I think it’s safe to say that the Lakers roster as it is now is going to be the one that they take into the postseason.