Lakers guard Derek Fisher made the decision to not play any competitive basketball this summer, and said that the break resembled many others he has had after playing deep into the playoffs.
Fisher and the Lakers played until June for the third consecutive season, winning back-to-back NBA titles after beating the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. In his 14-year career, Fisher, 36, has been to the playoffs 12 times, reached the Finals seven times and won five titles.
But about six years ago, Fisher said, he got "away from [playing] five-on-five" basketball during the off-season.
"You think about only having [from] June 18 or 19 to Oct. 1 basically to give your body and your mind a chance to kind of reset and be ready to do it again; to me it just makes sense," Fisher said after Lakers' practice Monday. "But it's with the context of the additional training methods that I use."
Fisher said he does off-season exercise drills "so I don't need basketball to stay in shape."
Although Fisher is the oldest starter on the Lakers, he's played in 413 consecutive regular-season games, second among active NBA players.
He's played in all 82 regular-season games the last five seasons — one each with the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz and the last three with the Lakers. Plus, he's played in 82 playoff games in the last four seasons.
And his game seems to peak in the spring.
Fisher averaged 10.3 points in 23 playoff games last spring, compared to 7.5 points during the 2009-10 regular season. He made 44.8% of his field goals and 36% of his three-pointers in the playoffs, up from 38% from the field in the regular season and 34.8% from beyond the three-point line.
He also averaged 32.7 minutes a game in the playoffs, up from 27.2 minutes in the regular season.
Fisher had some big moments in the Finals. He scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers win Game 3 in Boston, and his three-pointer midway through the fourth quarter of Game 7 tied the score and helped push the Lakers to another championship.
In the summer, Fisher signed a three-year, $10.5-million deal to stay with the Lakers, but he carefully monitored his non-basketball workouts.
"A lot of guys need to play in the summer," Fisher said. "But for me, I think it's something that has benefited me in terms of being able to play every game of every season and actually be my best at the end when maybe other guys are breaking down."
Kobe Bryant didn't practice Monday, but that was fine with Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who also didn't have Luke Walton (right hamstring strain) and Andrew Bynum (right knee) on the court.
Jackson wants Bryant, who still is recovering from right knee surgery, to improve his conditioning while strengthening his knee.
"He's working really hard," Jackson said. "He's feeling OK about it. Game shape, he's not ready to play yet."
Jackson said he told Bryant, "Just don't push it too fast."
Jackson plans to play Bryant about 16 to 18 minutes in the Lakers' exhibition Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas.
"More than that right now [for Bryant] I think is an extended moment," Jackson said.