From Mike Trudell, Lakers.com: Welcome back, folks! Glad to have you back in the mix for another Lakers season, one that promises to be intriguing with one of the best offseasons in NBA history, in which a two-time MVP and 3-time Defensive POY join Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the rest of the gang. We’ll have a running diary in case you miss anything from the games, or to supplement the broadcast, every time L.A. takes the court.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Dwight Howard was the only Los Angeles Lakers player out of uniform Sunday as he sported a bow tie and turtle-framed glasses on the sideline of the Lakers’ preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors. After telling reporters earlier in the week that he would “hopefully” play at some point in the preseason, the All-Star center backed off his stance somewhat. “I’m on track (to return), but my goal wasn’t to play (in) a preseason game,” said Howard, who continues to recover from offseason back surgery. “My goal is to win a championship. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The last time the Lakers played a game, Andrew Bynum skulked off the floor without shaking hands with the victorious Oklahoma City Thunder, ending his breakthrough season with another act of self-absorption that left even more skeptical about him being the future of the Lakers. But give this much to Bynum: He really wanted more for himself and was working to get it. Not everyone was. After that game ended, Metta World Peace preached to the players in the locker room not to get in that position again. “Everybody get in shape now,” World Peace urged. “This can’t happen.” He heeded his own words and looked sensational in the Lakers’ exhibition opener Sunday night. So did Pau Gasol, who after such a mental struggle amid trade rumors last season was described by Kobe Bryant entering this season this way: “He’s locked in. He’s ready to go.”
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Who sacrifices the most? Whose stats decrease, if not take a flat-out beating, on a Lakers team with so many pieces on offense? It’s all in the better interest of winning, sure, and a championship ring, not a scoring title, is the goal. But it’s worth asking. Maybe the fantasy basketball wonks will appreciate it.” In Phoenix, the reality of it is Steve [Nash] had the ball in his hands [and] eventually, whether there was one second on the shot clock or 10, he was going to find somebody,” Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. “He doesn’t need to do that here all the time.” Nash averaged 12.5 points and 10.7 assists last season with Phoenix. He had five points and three assists in the Lakers’ deceptively lopsided 110-83 loss to Golden State in an exhibition opener Sunday. The Lakers led at halftime, 56-49, and none of their starters played in the second half despite persistent “Ko-be, Ko-be” chants as the Warriors went on a 35-0 run. There were even some boos.
From Ramona Shelbourne, ESPN Los Angeles: Phil Jackson may have stepped away from the NBA, but he’s never been one to duck a controversy. The former Los Angeles Lakers coach didn’t exactly pick sides in the recent dust-up between centers Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, but said “there is a lot to what (O’Neal) says” when he characterized Howard as a “pick-and-roll” player with a more limited offensive game than more traditional back-to-the-basket centers Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez. Jackson described Howard as a better all-around player and complemented him on the improvements he’s made to his offensive game in recent years, but noted Howard is still “learning the post game.”
From Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: When will he be gone? When will the most masterful, historically important basketball career this side of Michael Jordan’s be chiseled in stone, the way some might joke that his first NBA contract was? Speaking with CBSSports.com in a quiet moment after practice, Bryant conceded that, in all likelihood, the finish line and the conclusion of his current contract will be one in the same. Bryant has two years left, and though he was careful to point out, “One can never be too sure,” he made it clear in the next breath it’s almost unfathomable he would play beyond 2013-14, which would be his 18th season. “It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health,” Bryant said. “That’s a lot of years.
From Brian Kamenetzky , ESPN Los Angeles: The No. 1 goal of the Los Angeles Lakers’ preseason — above developing chemistry, conditioning and the increased understanding of a new system — is to emerge unbitten by the injury bug. Period. End of story. Especially for a team collectively long in the tooth. Whatever goals not reached during training camp can always be met as the season progresses. Eighty-two games and nearly six months is a loooooong time to work out the kinks before the playoffs. But injuries are the one element that can’t be completely controlled, through even the most diligent human effort. When the body decides not to cooperate, that’s a problem, and one that can potentially persist throughout an entire campaign.