The journey starts Tuesday night for the Lakers, their first steps toward trying to win a third consecutive NBA championship.
But the Lakers have been troubled by injuries in the preseason. Whether their bodies are ready or not, though, the Lakers have to play the Houston Rockets on Tuesday at Staples Center in the regular-season opener for both teams.
Kobe Bryant was ineffective in seven exhibition games while trying to get his legs stronger after off-season surgery on his right knee.
Andrew Bynum missed all of training camp and probably won't be back until late November while recovering from right knee surgery.
Lamar Odom (swollen left thumb, tight back) and Theo Ratliff (swollen left knee) both practiced Monday and are expected to play Tuesday after missing Friday's exhibition game.
Luke Walton shot some after practice, but he will not play in the opener because of a strained right hamstring.
"We're as prepared as we can be at this particular time," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said after practice Monday. "Obviously we don't have Andrew. Kobe is coming off a situation which limited his participation.…This is OK. We know that this is part of getting ready for the season and we'll have members of our team back and ready in a couple of weeks."
Bryant didn't speak with the media Monday, but Jackson said his star guard told him "he feels comfortable playing over 30 minutes."
"We'll just see how strong he is during the course of the game" Tuesday, Jackson said.
The Lakers will get their championship rings from the 2009-10 season before the game, raise the banner for the franchise's 16th championship and go from there.
Barnes not charged
Citing insufficient evidence, the Sacramento district attorney's office announced Monday that it would not file domestic-abuse charges against Lakers forward Matt Barnes.
Barnes was arrested last month on suspicion of domestic violence after an alleged altercation with his fiancée in suburban Sacramento.
Police officers who responded to a 911 call Sept. 8 said there was evidence of an altercation, but Barnes' fiancée later disputed the allegations.
"The decision was made following additional investigation, and was based on the insufficiency of the evidence," the Sacramento district attorney's office said in a statement.
Barnes signed a two-year deal with the Lakers in July.
Pau vs. Yao
Pau Gasol, who is 7 feet tall and with a long reach, usually has a height advantage over most players he faces.
Not this time.
With Bynum out, Gasol will start at center and will have to face the Rockets' 7-foot-5 Yao Ming.
Even though Yao missed all of last season with a broken left foot, and his playing time is expected to be limited to 24 minutes a game, Gasol will have his hands full.
"It's always a test to play against Yao," Gasol said. "He's such a big presence inside with so many moves also. So it's always a challenge and you have to always give your best effort if you want to be successful against him."
Times staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.