Friday, July 29, 2011
Derek Fisher: Kobe Bryant looks good, far better than the CBA
By Brian Kamenetzky
First things first: It was nice to see Lakers guard and NBPA president Derek Fisher in something other than a business suit, basically the guy's uniform since the Dallas Mavericks keelhauled the Lakers in May. Friday afternoon, clad in gym shorts and a white Derek Fisher Basketball Academy t-shirt (dude so has a hook up on DFBA swag) stepped away from the gym full of very enthusiastic young hoopsters at Roybal Learning Center in downtown L.A. to speak with the media.
Fisher told us his own campers have been grilling him about the end of the lockout -- "I tell them like I tell everybody else," he said, "I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to make sure basketball starts up again as soon as possible." -- so it's no surprise with talks resuming Monday, we had a few questions as well. Which he answered, as diplomatically as possible (see the video below). To say I was bowled over by Fisher's optimism on the labor front would be ... a lie. He seemed pleased to re-start the process, but conveyed no real expectation of progress. (The one piece of good news came when Fisher said the union still has no plan to de-certify. As we learned with the NFL, de-certification means courtrooms, and courtrooms slow the process considerably.)
Incidentally, the word of the day at his camp was "perseverance." Sounds about right.
On a happier note, Fisher made it pretty clear when basketball eventually resumes, he thinks Kobe Bryant will look daisy-fresh. "He’s doing well. He’s healthy, he’s telling me and I saw it for myself, that his knee is the best it’s been in a long time," Fisher said. "I didn’t believe him, he was telling me he was doing some stuff at his basketball camp and I didn’t believe it, but I saw it a little bit in Manila so I believe it now."
Good to hear Kobe didn't waste his money with that PRP thing, because I'm pretty sure he went out of network for that one.
Regarding the rest of the team, Fisher said despite the presence of a new coach and system, the players aren't yet behind the eight ball despite being locked out. "I’m not sure if a lot of veteran guys would [be at the facility], anyway," he said. "I could see maybe some of our young guys or younger guys on other rosters that have new coaches and new systems to get accustomed to, but Pau [Gasol] is doing the [Spanish] national team thing which is a normal thing he would be doing. If there wasn’t a lockout, I’m sure the USA Team would be having some form of basketball or a festival, even though they’re already qualified for the  Olympics, they’d be doing something. So our guys would be doing things in the summer anyway that are not Laker-related things.
"Maybe as we move into September, then there will start to maybe be a little bit more of a focus on whether or not we should start trying getting together in terms of guys on their respective teams."
For the time being, he's right. While in the absence of the lockout guys would certainly have been in closer (meaning actual) contact with the new staff, for the non-youngsters I suspect their routines to this point of the summer would look relatively similar. Players like Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter, Darius Morris, and Andrew Goudelock are certainly impacted (particularly Caracter and Goudelock, who have weaker holds on roster spots), but the vets are fine for the time being. What changes is the location of their workouts, and access to the training staff. The latter probably matters more than face time with the new coaches.
I suspect as well players will show up to camp with at least a basic idea of what the coaches want to do. Information has a way of circulating. Heck, the more ambitious can click through YouTube and figure much of it out. A severely shortened camp and compressed schedule with less practice time won't help the Lakers with their learning curve, but we're not there yet.
More from Fisher below, including his thoughts on Monday's meeting, the union's position on players heading overseas, and the possibility of Lakers players organizing team workouts: