It’s three days before opening night and nobody can say for sure if Kobe Bryant will play. Phil Jackson’s words Saturday suggested that Bryant will be debuting his new No. 24. The sight of Bryant on the bench at the end of practice with two ice bags wrapped around his knee would suggest nothing’s guaranteed.
Here’s one quote from Jackson about Bryant I couldn’t get in the story:
“We know that theres going to be some limitations to what he can do, Jackson said. “Thats a choice he has to make. Hes been training, hes been working hard on it. Its almost four months (since the July 15 surgery).
“This is a normal injury where guys will say this is a `month-out injury. Its been twice that to three times that long for him to recover from it. We really have to let him have his head on this.
Shammond Williams was back practicing Saturday after missing much of the preseason with an abdominal injury.
By Ross Siler
The questions about his availability for the Lakers season opener have grown so inevitable, Kobe Bryant joked Saturday about talking to reporters while wearing a shirt with a daily update on his right knee.
There has been no decision made about whether or not Bryant will play Tuesday against Phoenix, although there were clues on both sides with a little more than 72 hours to go until tipoff.
Described as the “irreplaceable part by coach Phil Jackson, Bryant went through the first 90 minutes of practice, reported soreness in the knee, and watched from the sidelines as his teammates finished without him.
“Well just take it day by day, Bryant said. “Its kind of frustrating because every day it kind of varies.
Not soon after, Jackson revealed that Bryant has told him he intends to play Tuesday. And Jackson said he would defer to Bryant in making that decision after talking with the training staff.
“He felt like he could get that done, Jackson said. “I just feel I have to let him have his (say) on this.
The Lakers have listed Bryant as questionable to doubtful, though Jackson described that as being a “disclaimer.
Jackson has targeted the third week of November, when the Lakers have a four-day break in games, for getting back centers Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm from injury and moving forward with a core unit the rest of the season.
Long road: Jackson said he will be able to coach in Tuesdays opener, although he did not sound optimistic about making the trip for Wednesdays game at Golden State.
“I dont know about that, said Jackson, who underwent hip-replacement surgery Oct. 3 and continues to walk with a cane. “Im still having a little bit of trouble getting a shoe on and a sock on that one leg.
“But my therapys coming along great. The last week Ive made giant strides. So in three days, I could be in a position where I feel much more comfortable.’
Assistant coach Kurt Rambis would fill in if Jackson did not feel comfortable enough to travel. The Lakers also will play on the road next Sunday against Seattle.
In the glare: The Lakers practiced Saturday at Staples Center to get used to a special lighting system they will debut Tuesday. The lighting is designed to draw more attention to the floor and bring a feel to the game like the old Forum.
“It puts the focus on the court, Bryant said. “It gives it more of a magical feel, more energy, more intensity.
Tim Harris, the Lakers senior vice president for business operations, said owner Jerry Buss has wanted the change for years. Jackson added that he liked the “stage presence the lights helped create.
The Lakers cannot keep the lights up for more than Tuesdays game because of structural concerns at Staples Center. They would consider making a permanent change if fan feedback supports the new lights.
New feel: Although he won money from Lamar Odom by hitting a half-court shot at the end of practice, Vladimir Radmanovic said his injured shooting hand has forced him to change his entire game.
“Im just trying to pretend like I was never a shooter and its really hard, Radmanovic said. “Your muscles have a memory. You dont even think when you get on the court. It just comes automatically out of you. Im trying to put that aside.