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Gasol, Bynum get acquainted

October 04, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Pau Gasol doesn't smile blissfully on the way to work every day. He swears it's true.

The veteran forward-center is experiencing his first training camp with the Lakers after six and a half seasons in Memphis.

Preseason predictions have the Grizzlies near the bottom of the Western Conference, again. The Lakers, on the other hand, are the popular choice to win the West, if not the NBA Finals.

Not that Gasol is celebrating.

"Probably I did last year for the first month or so [after the trade], but I'm a guy that I always look forward no matter what, no matter how good things are, no matter how bad things are," he said.

His midseason acquisition energized the Lakers and helped them get through the rough-and-rumble West in the playoffs. He never played with Andrew Bynum until now. He likes what he sees.

"We're starting to develop our relationship on the court," Gasol said. "He's a young, talented man with a lot of potential. Hopefully he'll be able to explode this year and be able to produce a lot and I'll be able to do the same."

Already, Bynum and Gasol have a system in place on defense. Whichever one doesn't get the rebound sprints to the other end and establishes post position, as per Coach Phil Jackson's wishes.

It has been a long year for Gasol, who joined Kobe Bryant as the two Lakers who kept going after the NBA Finals. Gasol played in the Olympics for Spain, which lost to the U.S. in the gold-medal game, 118-107.

When that was over, Gasol rested for 16 days after consulting with a trainer and physical therapist. He then began strength exercises for his ankles, back, knees and shoulders, though Jackson said Gasol needed to do more running.

"He's not in the kind of shape Kobe's in, so he needs some conditioning work," Jackson said. "When he took off after the Olympics, he took off. He hasn't done much."

Said Gasol: "The legs in training camp get a little tired, a little sore, a little heavy, but you get through it."

Gasol correctly pointed out that it's how you finish a season, not how you start it in October.

And he laughed when asked if he and Bynum would each average 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.

"That'd be nice, but we still have Mr. Bryant on the team," he said. "We have so many weapons out there that one night there's going to be one guy the defense is not paying as much attention to, or one guy that has a better night than others. But we all should produce consistently well."

Sun not contagious

Rookie guard Sun Yue has been cleared to practice with the Lakers after doctors determined that his type of mononucleosis was no longer contagious.

Sun, a second-round pick of the Lakers in 2007, will still battle fatigue but has been allowed to join the team at training camp.

"The doctor said I've just recovered and still need a lot of time to rest, but I don't want to miss much in camp," Sun said. "So I've come here to see what I can do. I can run, but I still feel weak."

Sun, who signed a two-year deal with the Lakers, practiced with the team during non-contact drills Friday morning.

Sun, 22, started for the Chinese national team in last month's Olympics but was not expected to be a rotation player this season because he lacked NBA-level experience. If he doesn't get any playing time, he might be sent down to the Lakers' Development League team, the D-Fenders.

"He's a talented young guy and he's drawn the attention of our crack scouts and personnel people, so we want to see what kind of evaluation they gave him and if he fits in our system," Jackson said.


Luke Walton might begin scrimmaging with the team early next week, Jackson said. Walton, who had off-season ankle surgery, has been taking part only in non-contact drills. . . . Jackson has been keeping tabs on the Dodgers as they try to win a playoff series for the first time in 20 years. "Manny [Ramirez] hit a home run the other night that was pretty stupid. Guy hits the ball off his shoe tops and it goes out like 400 feet. Pretty ridiculous."


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