Reporting from Barcelona — Part-time player? Not in Andrew Bynum's mind.
The 22-year-old center plans on being a full-timer, deflecting an alternate possibility mentioned on Tuesday by Lakers Coach Phil Jackson.
"I think everything will be all right," Bynum said Wednesday. "I just need to be healthy. I need to get back playing and hooping with the team and having some dominant games."
Bynum has suffered knee injuries each of the last three seasons and has had surgery twice, most recently in July. He is expected back sometime between mid-November and December, depending on whom you believe.
Jackson said somewhat ominously Tuesday that the Lakers would have to think about turning Bynum into a situational player if he sustained another knee injury
"We're hopeful that this is the time he's able to start playing consistently through a season," Jackson said. "If not, we're going to have to look at Andrew as a short-minute guy, somebody like Yao Ming."
Yao has had recurring bone-related injuries and will play a maximum of 24 minutes a game this season for Houston. He also might sit out the second night of back-to-back games.
But Bynum sounded upbeat after practice as he stood in a corridor near the loading dock of the locally cherished Palau Sant Jordi, one of the main venues for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
"I think I'll be OK," he said. "Hopefully, I can just stay healthy. I'm just waiting to be cleared. Hopefully, it'll be in three weeks."
Bynum is consulting his personal doctor, David Altchek, on Oct. 25, the day before the Lakers' season opens. If he is cleared to play, he will need at least a few weeks to get into shape before returning to game action.
Bynum's response to Jackson's worst-case scenario was one of many developments Wednesday, which included a practice session at Palau Sant Jordi — sort of.
"We're doing pretty good in the NBA Cares clinics, but we're not doing so great with our own practices," said Jackson, who had maintained that the Lakers' exhibition season would be ruined because of their trip to Europe.
"I had five guys miss the team bus this morning. I blame Pau [Gasol] for that, but we won't hold it against him. He took them out last night and showed them some of the sights of Barcelona. We got a little bit behind the eight ball on this trip."
Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant said he would play in the Lakers' exhibition Thursday against Regal FC Barcelona but did not say for how long. He played only six minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday in London.
The Lakers now play a team with former NBA guard Juan Carlos Navarro and Timberwolves draft pick Ricky Rubio. FC Barcelona won the Euroleague championship in May.
Bryant was impressed enough with the basketball team and its city to say he would strongly consider playing for FC Barcelona after his NBA playing days were behind him.
"At the end of my career, if I really sat down and thought about coming over to Europe and playing, Barcelona has to be [up there]," he said. "It's just such a beautiful place, a beautiful organization."
Kobe or Michael?
Jackson gets asked the question every once in a while and is often reluctant to go into great detail with his answer. Who's better: Bryant or Michael Jordan?
It came up again on Day 6 of the Lakers' eight-game European trek.
"Well, I guess I'd be about as good a judge as anybody on that, having been able to coach both those players," Jackson said. "Great competitors. Similarities in their game are great. Perhaps the eras have changed a little bit."
Then he got a little less politically correct.
"We love the idea that it could happen, that Kobe could win a sixth ring. I'm sure Michael is watching with great anticipation as to how it's going to come out too."
Lakers over Heat
If NBA general managers know what they're talking about — the Lakers should beat Miami for the NBA championship.
In the annual NBA.com general managers' survey, 63% of them picked the Lakers to win it all next June. Miami received 33.3% of the votes, and Boston had 3.7%. (Percentages were based on the pool of respondents to each particular question rather than all 30 general managers.)
Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant was the runaway winner in the MVP vote survey, with 66.67%; Bryant finished second (25.9%). Bryant easily had the most votes for the player a general manager would want to take the last shot with a game on the line (78.6%). Jackson had the most votes for best coach (39.3%).
Jackson was asked yet again if he would be back next season.
"I really don't have any intention of coaching," he said. "Of course, you can never say never in this game. There are just too many opportunities."
Reserve forward Derrick Caracter sustained a sprained ankle at Wednesday's practice, said Jackson, who also acknowledged limiting reserve center Theo Ratliff's practice time because of knee tendinitis.