Kobe has been vocal and competitive in training camp, according to Coach Phil Jackson, but is still figuring out what Jackson wants in playing the guard position. For the first time since his summer of discontent with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant donned "the golden armor," as he has often called it, when the team opened the exhibition season Tuesday night here against Golden State.
And how has Bryant been in training camp as a Lakers teammate and leader in his first week back in the fold?
"He has been competitive," Coach Phil Jackson said. "He has been very vocal as a leader with these guys. Without Lamar (Odom) on the floor, he has started to pick it up a little bit."
Asked if Bryant has been pushing the sort of team-building concepts Jackson would like, the coach said: "Some of it is good. We've talked a little bit about what I'd like to see that's not apparent yet. That's a new (offensive) role, and it takes some guidance for him to see that."
Jackson intends to play Bryant more at guard this season after two years of letting him loose at small forward. Even with guard Derek Fisher's return to the team, Bryant knows better than anyone how to set up the triangle offense and set up teammates for shots, ocregister.com reports.
Now Bryant is being asked to set teammates up before the triangle is really set up, too. Jackson wants the Lakers to look for more early offense on each possession. He said he wants Bryant "not to come out of the backcourt with a thought in mind of how it's going to happen down at the other end of the court."
"We're doing a different type of an offense," Jackson said. "And a lot of it is less manufacturing offense. Just throwing the ball ahead, pushing guys to run, using lead passes to encourage running. If nothing works out in the first seven seconds of the 24-second clock, then organize the offense."
The Lakers' off-season was unpredictable, volatile and everything else, and Jeanie Buss has tried to put it in perspective.
Buss, the team's executive vice president of business operations, watched the last several months mostly from afar, jumping into the mix for a bit to defend her longtime companion, Coach Phil Jackson, on a talk-radio show.
When Oct. 1 rolled around and Kobe Bryant put on a Lakers uniform at media day, an off-season of tumult faded a little further into the background.
"It was frustration," Buss said of the discord, calling the team's first-round exit the obvious flash point. "It's like the other shoe never got to drop. We weren't supposed to be done by then. That just makes people not happy."
She was unhappy for at least one day, saying in May she was hurt by comments made by her brother, team vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, who criticized Jackson on a different radio show for not being able to relate to young players.
She now has a front-row seat as Jackson ponders an open offer to return to the Lakers. Jackson, 62, is beginning the final year of a three-year, $30-million contract, but it will be his decision whether to accept an extension for an undisclosed number of seasons.
He has had two hip-replacement surgeries in the last year and is walking with a cane.
"I think he was ready to sign it, but now, I'm not sure," Buss said of the extension. "I do think he's not moving as well as we'd like to see him move. He doesn't have any pain. It's really just muscle weakness. He doesn't have a lot of time to rehab that right now.
"He's committed to this organization. He loves living in L.A., he loves the fans. He wants to win more championships. If he's the problem, I don't think he wants to stay. If they feel he's the reason they can't win, if they're not 100% behind him, he understands."
Meanwhile, she has other hopes for the season in general.
"As long as we can stay healthy, all Phil dreams about is the playoffs," she said. "The regular season is a grind, it's difficult, with the payoff being the playoffs. It just hasn't been long enough -- two seasons out in the first round, that's agony for him."
Bryant has been out of the headlines since training camp began, but he has been fiery inside practices, latimes.com reports.
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