Luke Walton had some interesting things to say about Kobe Bryant and the future of the Lakers…
(Q: Is there going to be a problem with Kobe? It seems like he separated himself from the group.)
Yeah, but you never know what happens. I heard 15 different versions of the story.
(Q: All from him, though…)
Well, I mean, that’s tough to say, because he’s saying one thing and then you’ve got 10 different newspapers and 40 different stories. So like I said, I’ve learned from being in L.A. that the best way to deal with the offseason is to get away, work on your own game and come back fresh and ready to play. That’s what I did, and hopefully that’s what some other guys did, and we’ll be ready to get after it in a couple weeks.
(Q: Have you spoken to him about any of his feelings about this team?)
No. I talked to him once this summer, earlier in July, and that was about it. I know Kobe and I know he wants to win. I know we want to win. He’s not going to isolate himself from us now that we’re all here in training camp and working hard together every day. He’s going to be the leader, because he knows he needs to be if we want to win. I think he’s going to step in and we’ll let all this stuff be water under the bridge and move on.
(Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Kobe today?)
No, this is the first time I saw him, right now. I haven’t even gotten a chance to say hello to him yet. I’ll have plenty of time on the five-hour flight ahead of us and the next two weeks to talk to him.
(Q: Is that going to be a good chance for the guys to heal whatever went on this summer?)
Yeah, I’m 99 percent positive that by the end of training camp, no one’s even going to be talking about it. At least no one on our team is going to be talking about this. We’re going to be a team, we’re going to be ready to get some wins done this season and that’s going to be the end of it.
Q: Ninety-nine percent, huh?)
There’s one percent. You never know. Like I said, it’s playing in L.A. You never know what’s going to happen. But I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people are making it out to be.
(Q: Why do you feel that way? Do you think he meant what he said?)
The thing is, he wants to win championships. I guess the point was, he wanted different players in here who could help him win. But right now, this is the team we have. So we’ve got to win with our team. I think Kobe realizes that. Kobe knows we have a good team here. We were having a very strong season last year before everyone got hurt, and then we just never got back on the same page. We bring in D-Fish, who has won championships and has been there as a veteran player. We get Chris Mihm back and a couple more people healthy and we’ll be right in the race.
(Q: Were you, or any of your teammates, insulted by that?)
I wasn’t. I’m here to play basketball and win. The rest of it, whatever happens, happens. I’m not going to sit around and sulk all summer. I went down, got my body healed and got better for this year. That’s all I can I do. Why worry about things you can’t control?
(Q: Do you feel more solidified on this team now that you have a long-term contract?)
I think it has to do with a long-term contract and just having another year in the league with this team. It’s a little bit of both, but I definitely feel that I need to step my role up as far as being a leader this year.