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Jackson's idea still irritates Odom

For the second consecutive day, the Lakers forward takes issue with coach's thought of bringing him off the bench.

October 01, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Lamar Odom stood in a circle of teammates and screamed. He was certainly angry.

And that was only the cover of the Lakers' preseason media guide.

The real-life Odom wasn't quite as animated Tuesday as the one who energized the team before games last season, though his words continued to carry weight as training camp began at the Lakers' El Segundo training facility.

Odom, entering his 10th NBA season, again seemed irritated by the idea of becoming the Lakers' sixth man, zipping verbal darts at Coach Phil Jackson for a second consecutive day.

"Whatever he wants, I guess I would do," Odom said. "I wouldn't suggest that [reserve role], especially in a year where I want to be on the court, for obvious reasons. I would take it as this -- as if he was trying to motivate me a little bit. I guess I take it as a challenge."

Odom, in the final season of a contract that pays him $14.1 million, has been unhappy since Jackson said last week that Trevor Ariza would get the nod at small forward if the front line of Odom, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol didn't produce results.

Odom, who turns 29 next month, suggested Jackson might have been bothered by hearing that Odom spent too much time lounging on unspecified beaches during the off-season.

"I had to relax, you know," he said. "I had to let that [knee] tendinitis calm down and just take some time off. I feel good right now.

"Sometimes, with that tendinitis, the best thing to do is absolutely nothing, just lay on the beach with some good company and a Corona if that's your preference . . . kind of just chill out, take it easy and kind of build back up from the beginning. I'm not saying get out of shape, but letting myself chill out a little bit."

Odom, the Lakers' third-leading scorer last season (14.2 points a game) and leading rebounder (10.6 a game), was plagued at times by right knee tendinitis.

The angst felt by Odom could be part of another of Jackson's infamous psychological ploys with players. When asked about it Tuesday, Jackson was crisp with reporters.

"If you guys wouldn't write this," Jackson said, "I wouldn't have to be covering [it] up."

Jackson was then asked if a motivated Odom would be beneficial to the Lakers.

"Motivated? I don't know. I've never seen Lamar motivated before," he said, laughing.

Odom's reaction is out of character for the versatile, yet deferential, forward, known primarily as a team-first player in his first four seasons with the Lakers.

In fact, when pressed, Odom acknowledged feeling conflicted about his feelings.

"It's not right for me to be selfish at this time," he said. "I walk into the locker room and I'm like, 'This team is going to win a championship.' I want to be a part of that.

"It's definitely conflicted emotions. I might wake up today feeling one way and then wake up tomorrow feeling another way."

Meanwhile, the Lakers chugged ahead in a training camp that started on much firmer ground than last season.

As if to emphasize the point, Kobe Bryant and team owner Jerry Buss were seen shaking hands and talking good-naturedly after practice in a corner of the training facility.

Buss, of course, touched off a mini-riot last October by saying the Lakers "would definitely listen" to trade offers for Bryant, but employer and employee were obviously on a much friendlier level Tuesday. Bryant also waved to General Manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, who were also in attendance.

On the court, Bryant and Gasol were the beneficiaries of a reduced practice workload, as per Jackson's wishes.

Near the end of the first practice -- the Lakers are doing two-a-days through Sunday -- Bryant and Gasol took part in a light-hearted one-on-one game while the rest of the team ran a full-court scrimmage. Gasol and Bryant also sat out post-practice conditioning drills.

Jackson is giving the veterans extra down time during training camp because they played in the Olympics in August. In fact, Bryant and Gasol might sit out an exhibition game or two.

"I was told not to say that I wasn't going to play Kobe in exhibition games," Jackson said dryly. "So I'm not going to say that Kobe is not going to play in this exhibition game. But there's a chance that they may not play in exhibition games."

The Lakers begin exhibition play next Tuesday against Utah in Anaheim.


Rookie guard Sun Yue continued to feel fatigued because of mononucleosis and was not expected to appear at training camp this week. . . . Forward Luke Walton did not take part in Tuesday's scrimmages while continuing to recover from off-season ankle surgery. Walton can run in a straight line and took part in some drills Tuesday, but he is having trouble moving laterally.


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