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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Exhibition season is a volatile time for the NBA index

It's easy to get worked up about what goes on around the league at this time of year, but whether any of it has any real significance is another matter.

October 16, 2010|Mark Heisler

Welcome to the … LAKER INDEX!

Forgive the capital letters and exclamation point, but I'm on a limited budget — try zero — as ESPN promotes its Heat Index across its platforms.

LAKERS PRESEASON UPDATE — Living up to Coach Phil Jackson's prediction: "Bust."

If Kobe Bryant's rehab is slow, Andrew Bynum's is a month behind his.

Jackson can barely find days to practice between barnstorming trips through Europe for the NBA and Southern California for Jerry Buss.

KOBE UPDATE — Went into the weekend shooting 14.3% in three exhibition games.

KOBE IMAGE UPDATE — Still murky after all these years.

Friday, the Bleacher Report section on The Times' website, where fans write columns using information copped from professional journalists — just like the pros do! — listed these possibilities back to back:

"Kobe Bryant: Has the Lakers Star Become the NBA's Knight in Shining Armor?"

" Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James & The 100 Most Hated Athletes"

KOBE'S CHANCE OF AVERAGING A TRIPLE-DOUBLE/LAKERS' CHANCE OF WINNING 73/CHANCE OF NATIONS TURNING THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOUGHSHARES — 0%.

WHAT ALL THIS MEANS — 0%.

WHAT'S THE POINT OF DOING THIS NOW, AGAIN? — Don't ask me, I copped the format from ESPN.

::

This actually is a preseason update, although the first question is: What does anything in the preseason mean?

The coaches of 29 teams would say it's really important.

That leaves Jackson, who's amused by the whole thing.

Of course, Phil is amused by the regular season too.

This doesn't even compare to bad Lakers preseasons, such as 2003 with Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal at each other's throats.

Then there was 2006 with Shaq gone, and Jackson as well as Bryant sitting it out while recovering from surgery, with Kobe musing hopefully, "Sometimes less is more."

Unfortunately, less is usually less, as they demonstrated in a nightmare season that prompted Bryant to muse about getting traded.

Fortunately for the Lakers, as long as Bryant is OK in two weeks, more is usually more.

Kobe doesn't care what anyone thinks of how he looks, as he didn't care what anyone thought during last season's Finals.

Only this fall did he bother to acknowledge that his sore left knee, which almost gave out in the first round, was still "extremely, extremely, extremely painful" in the Finals.

Stuff that happens in October counts … just not as much as stuff in November, December, January, February, March and especially April, when the season really starts for good teams.

This is fortunate for those now marking time, or rolling and tumbling:

Miami — The operative word is no longer "payback" for the scorn heaped upon the Heat, but "hamstring."

With Dwyane Wade already injured in the exhibition opener, the only surprise was that Miami didn't take LeBron James off on a stretcher when his hamstring began cramping in Game 4.

Impact: So much for winning 73 and James averaging a triple-double, before the Heat Index even began updates.

Chicago — Even knowing Carlos Boozer was injury-prone, the Bulls hoped he'd make it to the exhibition season.

Worse, breaking a pinkie — at home after tripping over his gym bag, as he explained — prompted raised eyebrows and a New York Daily News report that the Bulls were "looking into" it, which was picked up everywhere, as if a formal investigation were underway.

The Bulls were, indeed, curious, but an investigation would have been absurd unless they wanted to void Boozer's five-year deal, which they didn't.

The Bulls said there was nothing to it. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief, until the next wanton overreaction.

Impact: Boozer, even more embarrassed, will play like a man possessed, although not before Thanksgiving.

Washington — Gilbert Arenas, who had already caused a stir by saying he would help rookie John Wall take over and then would "move on," topped that, saying he faked an injury so Nick Young could start.

Said Gilbert: "I guess I screwed up again."

He left the next game because of a groin injury, but no one has said he faked that … yet.

Impact: The Wizards would love to dump him — but they already did, and finding someone to take his four-year $80-million contract is now even less likely.

So, playing alongside Wall in an uber-athletic backcourt, Arenas may still be great, if they gag him.

Denver — Carmelo Anthony says he hasn't asked to be traded

"I told Melo, 'I'm excited about coaching you maybe a little harder than I did before,' " said Coach George Karl, in his heartwarming return to this zoo, "because I don't think we're getting you to the top of the mountain.' "

He might be talking to the wrong Anthony, with VH1 personality La La Vazquez Anthony thought to be the driving force in the matter.

Last week, a source close to Anthony told the Denver Post that Carmelo is increasingly frustrated at not having been traded.

Meanwhile, Anthony told Yahoo Sports that he and the Nuggets will discuss an extension "if I'm here after the season."

Impact: The Nuggets had better avoid losing streaks.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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