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A new episode for 24

first_imgSo, barring the unexpected, the Lakers who start training camp Tuesday will not be dramatically different than when they open the season Oct. 30 against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. That’s not to say they’re exactly the same as they were when they walked from the floor after the Suns eliminated them from the playoffs last spring. They did sign point guard Derek Fisher during the offseason to provide order instead of chaos. Forward Luke Walton signed a new contract, and center Chris Mihm is back, too. The Lakers added first-round draft pick Javaris Crittenton, a point guard who left Georgia Tech after averaging 14.4 points and 5.8 assists in his freshman season. Otherwise, it’s meet the new Lakers, same as the old Lakers. We might not know today whether the moves receive Bryant’s seal of approval or whether he still wants out. Conventional wisdom suggests he won’t trash the organization as he did during his tour of local radio stations or his impromptu news conference in a Newport Beach shopping center parking lot. Bryant later apologized for tearing into Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and center Andrew Bynum, which was captured on an amateur video. Bryant later said he regretted venting so publicly. Still, given repeated chances to take back his demands for a trade, Bryant declined. He sidestepped the issue during appearances with Team USA before and during the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament in Las Vegas. It’s likely that he’ll try to avoid addressing the topic today, beyond saying that it’s time to get to work and prepare for the 82-game grind that is the NBA season. Several veteran Lakers observers have suggested that Bryant will put the issue to rest simply by refusing to talk about it and then opting out of his contract in two seasons if matters don’t improve to his satisfaction. Then there is Phil Jackson’s situation, which bears monitoring, as well. This is the final season on his three-year, $30-millon contract, and Jackson said just days before his Hall of Fame enshrinement last month that he might not return for a fourth season in his second stint as Lakers coach. Reportedly, there is a two-year extension on the table, but neither side has shown much interest in getting a deal done quickly. Jackson may take his nine NBA championship rings and ride off into the sunset for good this time. Jackson came to Bryant’s defense during the offseason, agreeing that the Lakers hadn’t done enough to surround him with a strong enough supporting cast. Jackson will no doubt be quizzed about those comments today. The bottom line is the Lakers aren’t a bad team. They’re also not a great team, which they could have become had they been able to coax Minnesota’s Kevin McHale into sending them Garnett for a package of players. The Lakers couldn’t get the Pacers to back off their demands for Bynum and Lamar Odom for O’Neal, so that deal never materialized. As for Marion, who wailed last week that he wanted out of Phoenix and liked the idea of joining Bryant with the Lakers? Well, trades are difficult enough in the NBA without adding age-old division rivalries into the equation. Besides, the freewheeling Marion might not be such a great fit in the Lakers’ triangle offense. And Odom, who was rumored to be traded here, there and everywhere this summer, is better suited to the Lakers’ patient style than the Suns’ frenetic offense. Love them or loathe them, these are the Lakers who Bryant will call his teammates starting today. elliott.teaford@dailybreeze.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NBA: Kobe’s mood is a major concern with training camp on its way. By Elliott Teaford STAFF WRITER The summer of Kobe Bryant’s discontent has come to an end. It remains to be seen whether he’s still grumpy now that fall is here and the Lakers are set to fly to Honolulu for the start of training camp. The Lakers say they expect him to attend their media day and then hop aboard their flight this afternoon. What Bryant has to say today is anybody’s guess, but it’s a good bet it won’t be as newsworthy as his radio rants in May, when he asked to be traded. He wasn’t saying much of anything in the past few days and weeks. In the end, the Lakers had no intention of trading Bryant. What’s more, they struck out in their attempts to pull off a blockbuster deal that would have upgraded their roster and pacified their superstar guard. Kevin Garnett went from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics. Jermaine O’Neal stayed with the Indiana Pacers. Shawn Marion is expected to stick with the Phoenix Suns. Andrei Kirilenko might stay in Russia rather than rejoin the Utah Jazz. last_img read more