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Lakers are ready to leave China for home

Jet lag is taking its toll on players during what will be a nearly eight-day trip. The Lakers play Golden State in an exhibition Friday before heading back to Los Angeles.

October 17, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Steve Nash warms up before a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 10.
Steve Nash warms up before a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings… (Ethan Miller / Getty Images )

SHANGHAI — It finally hit Steve Nash almost a week after leaving Los Angeles.


The Lakers are close to the end of their China tour. They're ready for it.

"Today I felt about as jet-lagged as I've felt," Nash said Thursday. "But just keep plugging away."

The Lakers play Golden State in an exhibition Friday and head home immediately after the game, complete with a quirky twist.

They land at 10 p.m. Friday, three hours before their 1 a.m. Saturday departure from China, a 12-hour flight and a 15-hour time change adding up to a reversal in time.

They'll take it.

On this trip, the Lakers have balanced practice time with NBA-mandated promotional appearances, including an "NBA Cares" charity event and a "fan appreciation night" Thursday at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai.

"A very thorough day on the tour," Nash said.

Many internal clocks are still askew. Lack of sleep remains an issue for some players, along with the decidedly different food in China. The Lakers receive three boxed Americanized meals daily and all the bottled water they can drink because tap water in China contains more bacteria than what's offered back home.

They will have been traveling almost eight days when they touch down at a private LAX terminal. The NBA season opener will be 10 days away.

"It's not the most ideal situation, but not much we can do about it," Pau Gasol said. "We've tried to make it useful for preparation but it's a tough trip. I think everybody's going to be excited and happy to be home, so that's going to be kind of a relief."

Johnson-Odom cut

It wasn't strange to see the Lakers waive second-year guard Darius Johnson-Odom. He was a long shot to make the team.

What stood out was the time and place of his exit.

The Lakers announced the transaction with 36 hours left in their China excursion.

Johnson-Odom had flown on the Lakers' charter to Beijing last week, played in their game Tuesday against Golden State, and was scheduled to leave with them after Friday's rematch against the Warriors.

A harsh move by the Lakers, 6,000 miles from Los Angeles? Not quite.

Johnson-Odom agreed to terms with a Chinese pro basketball team, signing a contract worth $400,000, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Johnson-Odom weighed the offer for about a week and made up his mind after the Lakers strongly suggested he wouldn't make their roster.

They waived him Thursday so he could sign with the undisclosed Chinese team.

Johnson-Odom's numbers were far from spectacular — a 3.7-point average in three exhibition games — and he was cut from the Lakers for the second time since they drafted him 55th overall in 2012.

New Mr. Popular

Plenty of people wanted to interview Gasol during Chinese media access Thursday with the Lakers. Nash and Kobe Bryant got their share of attention, too.

But the player who rivaled them in popularity was surprising: reserve forward Marcus Landry was surrounded by Chinese reporters and broadcasters.

Marcus Landry?

He used to play for the Shanghai Sharks, a Chinese pro team.

Only a minor part of the Lakers' exhibition season so far, Landry seemed happy to interact with Chinese media members. He asked them to pass on a message to Sharks management.

"Tell them to sign me again after I'm done with the Lakers," he said.

Landry, the younger brother of NBA veteran Carl Landry, is averaging 4.4 points in five exhibition games.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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