Kobe Bryant admitted he’s remained on edge, and the reasons go beyond the Lakers scrapping for playoff contention and his competitive nature.
Bryant also hardly sounded thrilled that former teammate, Derek Fisher, signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the top Western Conference teams.
“That’s why I’m not happy about it,” Bryant said following practice Wednesday at the Lakers facility in El Segundo.
The Dallas Mavericks have been reportedly upset about Fisher joining the Thunder because it was only 65 days ago that the former Lakers guard asked for his release, citing undisclosed family issues and want to heal his injured knee. Fisher ate up Darren Collison’s playing time and averaged 8.6 points on 35.4 percent shooting in 25.4 minutes with the Mavericks. Fisher had also spent time as the president of the National Basketball Players Association overseeing the unanimous ouster of Billy Hunter as the union’s executive director.
Fisher remained a reliable player for his locker room leadership and clutch shots en route to five NBA championships with the Lakers. But they traded him last season before the trade deadline to the Houston Rockets, a move to shed cap space and accommodate room for Ramon Sessions as the Lakers’ starting point guard. Fisher soon took a buyout and signed a deal with the Thunder to take minutes for an injured Eric Maynor.
Even though Fisher averaged a career-low 4.9 points on 34.3% shooting through 20 regular-season games with the Thunder, Oklahoma City marveled at how his playoff experience and leadership boosted an otherwise youthful team. But they didn’t resign him because of Maynor’s improved health. After trading Maynor, the Thunder then resigned Fisher.
“He’s been staying in shape the whole time,” Bryant said, who’s close friends with Fisher. “It was a tough year for him last year because he had to deal all that BS going on with him in the lockout. So it was a very hard summer for him to get in shape and focus on the game. He’s ready to go and has been training the whole time and look sin shape and is ready to play. I’m sure he’ll make a great contribution.”
Bryant hopes, of course, that doesn’t come at the Lakers’ expense.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org