Every year, the NBAs general manager survey comes out a couple of days before the season opener. There are questions about which teams will win the championship, which teams made the best moves over the summer and which players will be the best at each position.
One of my favorite questions is which player someday will make the best coach. This season, the top three players were Steve Nash, Eric Snow and Shane Battier.
There was another player who got a vote, namely Kobe Bryant. Yet Bryant looked like he would rather chew nails than consider the possibility of someday being a coach – - even though his father is coach of the WNBA Sparks.
“Its just not for me, Bryant said.
Lakers spokesman John Black, meanwhile, offered an alternate view.
“Im sure he would make a great coach if he chose to do it, Black said. “But hell have so much money he wont even have to get off his couch.
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Bryant was voted the best shooting guard in the league, over Dwyane Wade, by the GMs. Bryant got 71.4 percent of the vote to Wades 21.4 percent.
He also was voted the best player in the league at getting his own shot and the player youd most want taking a shot with a game on the line.
Where Bryant didnt finish in the top three was in MVP favorites. He received a vote, but the top three favorites were LeBron James, Wade and Dirk Nowitzki.
Bryant received the second-most votes when GMs were asked which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments. Shaquille ONeal was No. 1.
Phil Jackson was only No. 3 in voting for the leagues best coach, behind Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich.
Jordan Farmar received a vote as the most likely “sleeper rookie success story.
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Remember when Andrew Bynum came to the Lakers and promised to be different from ONeal because he would make his free throws? Then Bynum missed 19 of 27 free throws as a rookie, numbers that even ONeal would laugh at.
That might not be the case any more. Bynum has made 12 of 14 free throws during the preseason. He has adjusted to standing at the line in NBA arenas, with fans behind the baskets that were never there in high school.
“Thats just something that we worked on all summer long with Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), Bynum said. “In between the drills, we shot free throws. I just worked on my stroke. He helped me, he told me to get it up. He was a great free throw shooter, so just take that from him.
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Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis talked about what is expected out of guard Smush Parker this season.
“As long as hes initiating our offense, Rambis said, “and also being the front man in our defense and showing everybody that we want to get up and pressure, then hes going to do well for himself and hes going to do well for us.
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Injury report for Thursday’s game: Bryant is expected to be out, Vladimir Radmanovic is either questionable or doubtful, Shammond Williams is out and Von Wafer is available.
Veteran guard Aaron McKie – - who got a vote for making the best future coach in last years GM survey – - will return from Philadelphia sometime this weekend after celebrating the birth of a child.
By Ross Siler
EL SEGUNDO–As soon as he said the words, Lakers forward Lamar Odom stopped to correct himself. Until Odom starts using his right hand on the court, there was no use Wednesday in describing himself as Kobe Bryants right-hand man.
So Odom will set his sights on being Bryants “left-hand man, a role all the more important as Bryant continues to recover from knee surgery.
Odom said he hopes to lighten the load on Bryant, who had to average 35.4 points and play 41 minutes a game for the Lakers to make the playoffs. The Lakers coaches, in turn, are hoping for more out of Odom, a player they almost have to beg to shoot.
If Bryant is unable to play in Tuesdays season opener against Phoenix, Odom would be counted on to lead in his absence. He can fill up a box score like few others in the NBA, but the Lakers instead are looking for Odom to be on the attack.
“We need an aggressive Lamar, Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. “His passing instincts are there, his unselfishness, willingness to pass the ball. Those are all there, thats something that he will always have in him.
“What we need him to do is be able to read and react whenever we need him to be aggressive offensively. Hes so much better for us when hes attacking and getting to the basket.
There is no comparison between Bryants game and Odoms game, as even Odom admits. While Bryant is capable of outscoring entire teams or shutting down an opposing guard on defense, Odom sees his role as being a playmaker for others.
“My mindset, Odom said, “has always been that the more players Ive got coming along with me, the easier its going to be to win this game.
Back in March, assistant coach Brian Shaw set a goal for Odom simply of taking 14 shots a game. That was nearly 2 1-2 shots more than Odom averaged for the 2005-06 season, when he averaged 14.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
Rambis said he hoped that by playing a forward spot on the wing, Odom would be able to get in “attack mode more easily this season. When he played in the backcourt, Odom tended to swing the ball around the perimeter, Rambis noted.
This will be the third season in which Bryant and Odom – - envisioned as a next-generation Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen – - will play together. Odom said he and Bryant have reached a point where they know each others tendencies.
“I know what to expect from him, he knows what to expect from me, Odom said. “I think we both respect that. In that case, nothing really needs to be said.
There also is a message that Odom knows can be sent by playing well without Bryant.
“I always tell people, Odom said, “when you can play really good basketball with Kobe on the bench, then they kind of get discouraged because they know whats going to happen when hes on the floor.
Gettting defensive: The greatest concern with Bryants knee probably comes on the defensive end, where Bryant would have to chase after opposing guards, fight through screens and change directions without warning.
“Its trying to work through that, Bryant said, “so when I come back I dont have an issue of having to take shortcuts and things like that.
Rambis said Bryant tried to make steals and played aggressive defense in a scrimmage Tuesday at Staples Center.
“He will have an impact in games defensively, Rambis said, “just because his understanding of what we want to get accomplished.
Bryant went through all of Wednesdays practice but sat out at the end as a precaution against his knee tightening. He is not expected to play in tonights exhibition game against Denver in Anaheim.