It’s been a busy couple of days for the Lakers as training camp is about to begin and members of the organization have been talking to the press about the upcoming season. Below are some of the recaps from various members of the press and/or blogosphere that were there for first hand accounts and few extra links for good measure.
*The man that everyone spoke to yesterday was Phil Jackson as he gave his annual pre training camp presser on all things Lakers. He talked about this probably/maybe being his last stand (including a great line about Custer), about the “exhibition” games in Europe, about his decision to come back for this season, about Andrew Bynum, and much, much more. For some excellent recaps for Phil’s discussion with the media, check out the summaries from Mike Trudell over at Lakers.com, the K-Bros at Land O’ Lakers, and Mike Bresnahan at the LA Times.
*As mentioned, one of the main story lines going into training camp relates to Andrew Bynum and how he’s still not fully recovered from his off-season knee surgery. Which means he will not play in any of the Lakers pre-season games and may not even be ready for the start of the regular season. This has brought Bynum some heat from the local media where questions about the timing of his surgery have been debated and young ‘Drew has pretty much been portrayed in a negative light. I’m on the same page as Phil on this in that the surgery ended up being a bit more complex than originally estimated and that pushed back his recovery time. And since the team encouraged ‘Drew to get away from the game for a little while, there is no blame to be laid here. Bynum will eventually recover and he’ll contribute to the success of the Lakers this upcoming season. That may not be in October but the team wants a healthy ‘Drew in May and June.
*Speaking of ‘Drew, over at Pro Basketball Talk, Matt Moore is also questioning Bynum and bringing up the long debated topics of laziness and work ethic and how it’s still tough to know what the Lakers have in their young Center (Moore also lists plenty of positives about ‘Drew – so go give it a read). Let me say that while Moore makes some good points, I think the questions about Bynum’s work ethic are a bit misguided. As I’ve said multiple times in the past, Bynum has improved too much in his career for folks to question how hard he’s worked. When ‘Drew came into the league he was doughy teenager that had limited offensive skills. Since his rookie year he’s transformed his body, refined his post game to the point that he’s effective finishing with both hands from both sides of the paint, has developed a good face up game, and has even picked up counters to compliment his go-to, pet moves. He’s also worked his way back from some pretty serious knee injuries in order to become a major contributor to the Lakers’ success. And while some of this development operated on timelines slower than what fans would have liked, the fact that he’s come this far shows the amount of work that he’s put in. I just don’t buy that this kid is lazy or that his focus isn’t where it should be.
*Speaking of hard work, no one ever questions the effort that Kobe puts in during the off-season and this year is no different. Based off what Phil has seen and heard from both Kobe and the Lakers’ training staff, #24 will be ready to go this pre-season and should even see some minutes during the games played in Europe after dealing with his own off-season knee surgery. This is excellent news for the Lakers (and the paying customers in England and Spain) as we all want to see how Kobe looks (hopefully, well rested) and if his game is ready to go for next season. One body part that may not be healed, though, is Mr. Bean’s busted index finger. As Kevin Ding reported, Kobe has arthritis in the knuckle on that finger and there’s really no repairing that through surgery. The hope is that he’s done enough strengthening of the finger through exercises and rehab to have it be less of an issue this upcoming year, but that remains to be seen.
*As for other training camp news, the Lakers have added a few more bodies to the roster as camp invites. Four players in total were added and they’re back court players Trey Johnson Anthony Roberson and centers Andrew Naymick and Russell Hicks. This brings the Lakers roster to 18 players heading into training camp. Before anyone asks, I think it’s highly doubtful any of these guys make the team and are in Lakers camp to hopefully get some exposure around the league to make another roster or potentially get an offer from a European club (and considering the Lakers will be in Europe for part of the pre-season, this may be even more likely). For a bit more of a background on Russell Hicks, check out the interview Henry Abbott had with his agent when talking about Russell’s invite to Lakers camp.