Injuries continue to nag Lakers in preseason

October, 5, 2015
Oct 5
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

ScottAP Photo/Kevin Sullivan

HONOLULU -- Injuries have been a nagging issue for the Los Angeles Lakers lately. The team led the league in each of the past two seasons in games missed due to injury. That trend has continued through training camp before the 2015-16 season.

Rookie guard D'Angelo Russell (bone bruise in his right foot), rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. (back), guard Nick Young (back) and guard Marcelo Huertas (hamstring) have all been dinged up.

Guards Anthony Brown (right shoulder) and Jabari Brown (right hand) also joined the Lakers' list of walking wounded after suffering injuries in Monday's practice at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii.

An X-ray on Jabari Brown was negative and he has a contusion of his right hand. An MRI on Anthony Brown was also negative and he has a shoulder strain. Both players are listed as questionable.

Beyond that, Scott said 37-year-old Kobe Bryant "felt good" after playing his first game in nearly nine months Sunday, in which Bryant scored five points on 1-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes, all in the first quarter. Scott said he and Bryant would discuss how many minutes Bryant might play in Tuesday's game against the Utah Jazz here.

Scott said Bryant could play just 12 minutes again Tuesday or possibly more, but Scott said that decision would likely be made Tuesday morning.

If Bryant plays, as expected, Scott confirmed he'll go with the same starting lineup: Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Bryant, Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert.

Scott said he wouldn't mind if that starting lineup emerged as one he could use throughout the regular season.

"I would love for this group to take this to the next level," Scott said. "The only way they can do that is by playing together a little bit more in game situations and practice."

Scott said Nance practiced Monday and is expected to play Tuesday. He also said veteran forward Metta World Peace is expected to play after sitting out Sunday's game.

Huertas isn't scheduled to play Tuesday, as the team announced he will be absent because he'll be receiving his immigration documents in Vancouver.

Scott: Lakers have to fight through fatigue in preseason

October, 5, 2015
Oct 5
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

LakersAP Photo/Marco Garcia

HONOLULU -- The Los Angeles Lakers shot an abysmal 29 percent from the floor in their 90-71 preseason-opening loss to the Utah Jazz here Sunday, and many of those misses occurred the same way.

They hit the front of the rim.

Typically, a poor shooting night with so many players clanking so many shots off the front iron is a common sign of team-wide fatigue, which seemed understandable as Lakers coach Byron Scott has focused on running his players hard throughout training camp here.

But Scott didn't think fatigue played much of a role in their shooting.

"I think a lot of it is just, we just missed a lot of wide-open shots," Scott told reporters after practice at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center on Monday.

"I don't know if it has anything to do with tired legs. I think we just missed open shots. You can always say it's tired legs. That to me is an excuse."

Scott doesn't seem too sympathetic to the idea of resting his players much, either.

"I don't necessarily care about tired legs in preseason," Scott said. "I think everything that we've done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You've got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

"So I'm not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They'll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway."

Scott used a similar message after his Lakers were drubbed by the Jazz on Sunday, saying, "From what I saw, we've got to do some more running as far as getting back in transition because I thought they looked like they were in better shape than we were."

The Lakers have had several players dinged up lately, including guard D'Angelo Russell (bone bruise in his right foot), forward Larry Nance Jr. (back), guard Nick Young (back), guard Marcelo Huertas (hamstring), guard Anthony Brown (right shoulder) and guard Jabari Brown (right hand).

That streak of injuries continues a recent trend, as the Lakers have led the NBA in games missed due to injury in each of the past two seasons.

Byron Scott: 'We've still got a lot of work to do'

October, 4, 2015
Oct 4
Holmes By Baxter Holmes


HONOLULU -- It was only one game -- and a preseason game at that -- but Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott didn't seem too pleased with his team's effort.

After Sunday's 90-71 loss to the Utah Jazz at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center, Scott said he told his players that, "We've got a lot of work to do. There's no way in the world we're even close to where we want to be."

The Lakers are coming off their worst season in franchise history, finishing 21-61.

Byron ScottAP Photo/Marco GarciaByron Scott has been smiling in Hawaii this week, but he had little to be happy about after the Lakers' exhibition opener Sunday night.

Speaking after Sunday's game, Scott also said that the Lakers "were a step late, it seemed, in every aspect of the game."

He also harped on several defensive mistakes.

"We gave up way too many drives," Scott said. "We gave up way too many baseline dish-offs. Sometimes, [because of] a lack of communication, we gave up some open shots."

Scott has been running his players quite hard in practice during the previous five days, so he said he wasn't all that surprised that some of them seemed tired Sunday.

"From what I saw, we've got to do some more running as far as getting back in transition because I thought they looked like they were in better shape than we were," Scott said.

Kobe Bryant, who played in his first game after injuring his shoulder nine months ago, was encouraged.

"There's a lot of upside," Bryant said. "I think the pieces compliment each other extremely well. It's just a matter of getting in a rhythm, getting some of these games underneath my belt a little bit."

D'Angelo Russell shows flashes but still has plenty of work to do

October, 4, 2015
Oct 4
Holmes By Baxter Holmes


HONOLULU -- D'Angelo Russell had nowhere to go but up after an unimpressive summer league performance, one in which the promising Los Angeles Lakers' rookie guard tallied nearly twice as many turnovers (26) as assists (16) in five outings.

His first game since then, held Sunday night at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, wasn't exactly a huge step forward for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

In the Lakers' 90-71 preseason opening loss to the Utah Jazz, Russell finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting, including 1-for-4 from 3-point range.

He also had three rebounds, three assists and two turnovers in about 21 minutes.

D'Angelo RussellAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesD'Angelo Russell struggled in his first exhibition game with the Lakers, but coach Byron Scott isn't concerned.

"Rookie, 19 years old -- that's pretty much to be expected, as far as I'm concerned," Lakers coach Byron Scott said.

Russell did have a few highlights, including one no-look pass to Julius Randle on a fast break that turned heads.

"His vision is astronomical," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "If there's a crack, that ball is to you."

Still, Russell more often than not looked like a player still adjusting to transition from the college ranks to the pro game.

"At the end of the day, it's our first preseason game," Russell said. "We've got a long way to go before the season [starts on Oct. 28]."

Russell had been limited in practice this week by a bone bruise in his right foot, but he said it wasn't an issue during the game.

"I forgot about it once I was out there," he said.


HONOLULU -- Kobe Bryant scored five points in his first action since undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in the Los Angeles Lakers' 90-71 loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

Bryant was 1 of 5 from the field, with his only made basket coming on a 3-pointer from the left corner. He made both of his free throw attempts.

Derrick Favors had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz in the preseason opener for both teams.

JAZZ: Favors scored 12 points in the first half. Gordon Hayward added 11 points and nine rebounds, Rudy Gobert had 10 points and eight boards, and Trey Burke added 10 points.

LAKERS: Guard Lou Williams, who won NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors with Toronto last season, scored 14 points off the bench. Nick Young was the only other Los Angeles player to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points.

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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant misses his first shot but hits a 3-pointer later on in his first game back from a shoulder injury, a preseason matchup against the Jazz.

HONOLULU -- Kobe Bryant's first shot in nearly nine months didn't go as planned.

With about 10 minutes left in the first quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' preseason opener Sunday against the Utah Jazz, the 37-year-old guard fired a contested 3-pointer from the left corner, and it hit the side of the backboard.

The rest of Bryant's brief outing wasn't much better, with the longtime Laker finishing with five points on 1-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes, all of them coming in the first quarter before a Lakers-heavy crowd at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Bryant's lone field goal was a contested 3-pointer from the right corner over Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward.

The Lakers would go on to lose 90-71

After his first game since late January, when he tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, ending his 2014-15 season after 35 games, Bryant said he felt "pretty good" and that it was "good to get out there."

He added that his legs feel strong and that he didn't feel any fatigue.

"It's just getting the timing," said Bryant, whose past three seasons have all been cut short by injury. "Getting timing. Getting acclimated to that again."

Lakers coach Byron Scott seemed pleased with Bryant's performance.

"He was pretty good," Scott said. "He moved well."

Scott said the plan of playing Bryant 12 minutes was agreed upon before the game.

"I told him before we went out, 'Let's just play the quarter and then let's shut it down and see how you feel [Monday]. We'll go through practice and then get ready for Tuesday,'" Scott said.

The Lakers face the Jazz again Tuesday, and Bryant is expected to play limited minutes in that game as well, though Scott said they'll likely increase Bryant's minutes gradually throughout the preseason.

What's the target for how many minutes Bryant would ultimately play? Scott declined to say.

Bryant started at the small forward position, as Lakers rookie and 2015 No. 2 overall draft pick D'Angelo Russell

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Mentoring Mamba shares what he knows

October, 3, 2015
Oct 3
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo RussellAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesLakers rookie D'Angelo Russell has a mentor in Kobe Bryant this season.

HONOLULU -- Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard D'Angelo Russell was eight months and 11 days old when Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut.

"D'Angelo could probably be my son," the 37-year-old Bryant quipped after the Lakers' practice Saturday at the University of Hawaii at Mona's Stan Sheriff Center.

The 19-year-old Russell isn't alone, though. The Lakers are populated with several young promising players, including 20-year-old forward Julius Randle and 23-year-old guard Jordan Clarkson.

While a generational gap no doubt exists between Bryant and the team's fledgling trio that it hopes will be its future core, Bryant is doing his best to help bridge that gap.

"The universal language is the game," Bryant said. "These guys, they're really, really thirsty for knowledge."

And so after practices, several players have been gathering, whether back at the team hotel or elsewhere, just to talk.

"The other day, we sat around and talked for about 2 1/2 hours," Bryant said. "They just wanted to know some of the things that I've been through, some of the things that I've learned, some of the things that I can help them with. The game really connects us."

What do they chat about?

"The process and the journey and things to look out for," Bryant said. "Not so much tactically about the game, more so emotional -- kind of what separates good players from great players. What happens when players come in, first pick, second pick, third pick, and some go on to have great careers and some just fall by the wayside. And why do you think that is? What do you see?"

When asked if players are responding to what he has shared, Bryant said that isn't exactly the point.

"It's not really responding to me," he said. "It's just talking and sharing some of my stories and they want to know about how I did it. I'm just very frank and candid with them. I think it sinks in. It's important that they find their own way. I can only provide them with some of the knowledge and information that I have."

Bryant said he had hoped to be in this position one day.

The universal language is the game. These guys, they're really, really thirsty for knowledge.

- Kobe Bryant

"I always felt like it would be fun," Bryant said. "It's just, when I was younger, who was I able to pass knowledge off to? I’d do camps and clinics for kids that are 10-12 years old. They'll listen. But who's going to listen to a 20-year-old? So now, my peers are more willing to listen because of everything that I've been through."

Bryant said he realized other NBA players looked up to him around 2008, and although he had plenty of knowledge about the game from his father, Joe, who played in the NBA, Bryant recalled learning from veterans when he was a young player as well.

"When I came in the league, I was surrounded by golden greats," Bryant said. "I remember '98 in the All-Star Game in New York, it was like a kid in a candy store. Because I had Michael [Jordan] that I was playing up against and I had always picked his brain for stuff, but then in the locker room, I was next to Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Charles Barkley. So I'd go around just asking everybody questions."

For now, Bryant says he enjoys being around those younger players.

"They're hungry," he said. "They want to be great."

Although many years separate Russell, the Lakers' No. 2 overall draft pick in 2015, and Bryant, the game is one subject that will help connect them.

"It's not listening to the same music, it's not going out to a club, I’m too f---ing old to do that s--t anyway," Bryant said. "But it's just talking, being in his ear whenever he needs it and however I can help."

HONOLULU -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott said earlier this week that he wasn't sure if Kobe Bryant would play in the team's preseason opener Sunday against the Utah Jazz.

But speaking after practice here Saturday, the 37-year-old Bryant left no doubt about his status.

"I'm definitely playing," Bryant said at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Stan Sheriff Center.

It would mark Bryant's first game since late January, when he tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, ending his 2014-15 campaign after 35 games. Bryant's last three seasons all have been cut short by injury.

"I feel great," Bryant said. "It's just getting the sea legs under me. Getting up and down ... I'm feeling in great shape. I feel strong, feel healthy."

Bryant, who is entering his 20th season with the Lakers, has said that he expects to play limited minutes throughout the preseason in an effort to help him stay healthy.

His priority, as of now, is to try to regain his rhythm.

"I haven't played in so long," Bryant said. "It's just timing. Defensive timing. Offensive timing. That stuff, you can't get back in training, man. You've just got to play."

Playing alongside rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell, the Lakers' 2015 No. 2 overall draft pick, means Bryant won't be expected to handle the ball as much or set up the offense.

"I do not like setting up the offense," Bryant added. "I hate it. [Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson] made me do it years ago, and I had to learn how to do it years ago, to set up the triangle [offense].

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D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson working on chemistry

October, 2, 2015
Oct 2
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

Jordan ClarksonAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesJordan Clarkson could be more of shooter than distributor when paired with D'Angelo Russell.

HONOLULU -- When the Los Angeles Lakers invited D'Angelo Russell back for a second pre-draft workout this summer, Russell was more than a bit surprised.

After all, the team already had a promising young combo guard in Jordan Clarkson, an All-Rookie First Team selection, so why would they add another one, thus crowding their backcourt?

"He already assumed we had a ballhandling guard,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said last week. “Our position with him was, ‘The reason we’re bringing you in a second time is we feel like you can play together.’ He was taken aback. He said, ‘Really?’ We said, ‘Really. That’s why we’re bringing you in a second time. We feel you guys can play together.'"

Still, there was concern. And when the Lakers drafted Russell No. 2 overall, many wondered if he and Clarkson could co-exist.

It remains one of the most intriguing storylines facing the Lakers this season, but, so far, there doesn’t appear to be much tension between those two.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

“They seem to get along pretty well,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said after Friday’s practice at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Stan Sherriff center here.

D'Angelo Russell Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesD'Angelo Russell says he will be looking to pass more with Clarkson in the backcourt.

“For both those guys, they want each other to do extremely well, and their chemistry is undeniable when you see them on the court and off the court.”

Part of the reason the two players seem to mesh well is that they believe their skill sets complement each other more than they overlap.

“His mentality is more [to] score,” Russell said. “I’m looking to pass, and he’s in a position to score most of the time.”

Said Clarkson: “We’re two totally different players. He’s an excellent passer and I’m real aggressive and it just kind of comes together.”

The players also come together outside of basketball.

“We hang [out] a lot off the court,” Clarkson said, “so it kind of makes it easy on the court.”

“We just relate to each other,” Russell said. “He’s not one of those real serious vets that you can’t crack a smile around. He’s a young dude, second year, still learning, still growing. Me, the same way. I’m a goofy guy, he’s a goofy guy. So we kind of complement each other.”

They played alongside each other at times during summer league, and there seems to be a legitimate chance both are in the starting lineup together with Kobe Bryant playing the small forward position.

Scott said he has faith both Clarkson and Russell can play either guard position.

“That’s what these guys can both do,” Scott said. “There’s going to be times when Jordan is going to initiate the offense. There’s going to be a bunch of times when D’Angelo is going to initiate the offense. I don’t think neither one of those guys are worried about that phase of it. They’re more worried about wins than anything.”

Notes: Metta World Peace has missed the past two days of practice with a calf injury. “Obviously, it’s not the way we planned it,” Scott said. ... Russell practiced for about 15 minutes before the bone bruise in his right foot started bothering him. He sat out the rest of practice.

D'Angelo Russell limps off with bone bruise

October, 1, 2015
Oct 1
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

HONOLULU -- Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, the team's No. 2 overall draft pick this year, limped off the court during practice here Thursday with a bone bruise in his right foot.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said they would monitor Russell to see if he could participate in the team's second practice of the day, scheduled for later Thursday afternoon.

“If he has a little pain in there, we’ll sit him down for precautionary reasons," Scott said. "We’ll get him ready for [Friday]. But right now, he’s not ruled out for [Thursday night's] practice.”

Russell downplayed the injury while sitting in a padded chair off to the side.

"It's just a bruise," he said. "It's all good."

However, Russell later walked away with a noticeable limp.

The Lakers have been plagued by injuries lately, leading the NBA in back-to-back seasons in games missed due to injury.

Julius Randle gaining with this pain

September, 30, 2015
Sep 30
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

Julius RandleLeon Bennett/Getty Images

HONOLULU -- Julius Randle missed it all so much, not just the game but all that comes with it, the hidden side effects that he might have neglected before -- but not after spending his rookie season sidelined by a broken right leg sustained in his NBA debut.

Something that the Los Angeles Lakers forward -- and the No. 7 overall draft pick in 2014 -- never knew that he’d miss?

Simply feeling sore.

“I forgot about that,” Randle said after the first of the Lakers’ two practices on their second day of training camp held here Wednesday. “Yeah, it’s cool. I’d rather be sore than on the sideline.”

The Lakers held two practices at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Stan Sheriff Center, their first two-a-day of training camp. But Randle enjoyed the grind. After being without basketball for so long, he wants as much as he can get.

“It’s true, especially after last year,” Randle said.

While Randle played with a minutes restriction during summer league in Las Vegas, he has no minutes restrictions during training camp, so he’s able to play without looking at the clock.

“It’s been good,” he said. “It’s been a year [since I’ve played]. It’s been amazing.”

Physically, Randle has transformed his body, losing about 18 pounds both through commitment to a diet (less carbs, fried food, sugars) and the weight room.

But Lakers coach Byron Scott notices another change in Randle.

“His confidence,” Scott said. “I think now he feels that he can definitely play at this level. Last year, I think he was guessing and wondering if he could, even though he didn’t play this year.

“Just sitting and watching and going through the process of watching all the games and the process of watching the rehab and then summer league and getting back on the court on a day-to-day basis, I think now he feels that he definitely belongs at this level.”

Randle credited his improved confidence to all the time he’s spent in the gym lately and to what he learned a year ago.

“Obviously I got a little bit of experience last year, so I kind of know how to prepare more,” he said.

But Randle is still an unknown commodity, in many ways. Even the Lakers don’t quite know what they have in him.

“I know enough, but I’m still not sure,” Scott said. “I’m still probably going to find out some things day to day. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what he can do, what he’s going to be able to accomplish. But I’m sure he’s probably going to show me some things that I didn’t know as well.”

For now, Randle is running well and impressing his teammates.

“He’s playing great right now. I’m really excited,” said Lakers forward Metta World Peace. “He’s playing really, really well right now. I’m looking forward to seeing him make progress.”

D'Angelo Russell starts on the good foot with Kobe

September, 29, 2015
Sep 29
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

D'Angelo RussellGary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

HONOLULU -- D'Angelo Russell couldn’t help but stare at Kobe Bryant as the two practiced side by side Tuesday, when the Los Angeles Lakers opened training camp at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Stan Sheriff Center here.

“You try to keep it off your mind like, yo, this guy is not right beside you running the three-man drill,” said Russell, the Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“Something you got to get past, if we want to be the best we can be. We’ve got to look at him as a mentor, not look at him as a fan [would].”

Russell was eight months and 11 days old when Bryant made his NBA debut, and now this could well be Bryant’s final NBA season, during which he’ll be expected to mentor the team’s young players, especially Russell.

“Just little details about the game here and there, but he loves the game, you know?” Bryant said of Russell. “When you have a player that loves the game it’s really just my responsibility to make sure he never loses sight of that. Through difficult moments and even the great moments, always just focus on the love of the game. Once you have that you’ll problem solve everything. Right? Once you stay focused on that. It’s my job to really keep him locked in.”

Bryant said he’s already been impressed by Russell.

“Great poise, he has a lot of poise out there, he’s very calm under duress,” Bryant said. “Doesn’t really seem fazed by much.”

And Russell has already been impressed by Bryant.

"I got here as early as everybody else,” Russell said. "And [Kobe Bryant] was already here."

Lakers coach Byron Scott is obviously pleased that Bryant can mentor Russell.

“He’s going to get some wisdom from one of the greatest players that ever played the game,” Scott said. “Kobe, obviously during the drills, is taking him to the side and talking to him and I saw that this morning. D’Angelo is one of those guys that’s a sponge. He wants to learn. That’s a great relationship to have and to be able to talk to somebody that’s been there so many times and been so successful.”

Scott praised Russell after the first day of camp.

“He looked good,” Scott said. “Conditioning-wise, he looked good. He shot the ball extremely well. On the defensive end, just working on some of the things that we want him to do on that end of the floor as far as communication and understanding to be back and where he needs to be were good. For a first day overall with D’Angelo and some of our young people and overall just the team, I was very happy.”

For Russell, the first practice came after a restless night because he was too eager to get back on the court.

“I couldn’t sleep last night, I woke up really early just ready to get here. I know Kobe got here early. I know I plan on getting here early also. It was like the first day of school honestly.”

That first day featured plenty of running, too. Scott pushed the team hard in conditioning drills, but he said he was happy with how everyone performed.

“I would say half the guys were in great shape, or in terrific shape, and the other half were in very good shape,” Scott said. “So there was not one person where I said, he didn’t come ready for camp, which is a good thing.”

It was also unusual, Scott added.

“Usually I have a couple guys that are throwing up, falling out. They went longer. We put 20 minutes on the clock and I said, if we get to 15, we can probably stop it, but I made them go a little bit longer and everybody was good.”

For Scott, it’s also part of a new approach for the Lakers this season.

“If we’re going to lose some games this year, it’s not going to be because we’re not in shape -- a lack of condition,” Scott said. “If we’re going to lose games, it’s going to be because some teams are just better than we were that night. But the one thing I want our team to be is, in that fourth quarter, I want our team to be strong mentally as well as physically and then we’ll see what happens.”

Russell jokes that he always views running as punishment, which might leave a sour taste in his mouth in terms of how he views Hawaii -- at least for now.

"Getting through the week, I probably wouldn’t want to come back, knowing that it’s a lot of running," Russell said. "That won’t get past me. If I come back it would have to be with my family and no basketball shoes. Just take it as vacation."

Kobe feels good, looking to stay that way

September, 29, 2015
Sep 29
Holmes By Baxter Holmes

videoHONOLULU -- It felt beautiful, Kobe Bryant said, the cyclical nature of returning to the scene of his first NBA training camp in 1996 and, nearly two decades later, quite possibly his last.

“It’s a little strange,” the Los Angeles Lakers star guard said with a smile Tuesday after the team opened camp at University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Stan Sheriff Center, “because I remember [it] like it was yesterday and being here and all of my teammates that were here before that are now either retired or coaching [or on TV].”

In that first training camp, Bryant was limited after having broken his left wrist during a pickup game in Venice Beach weeks earlier.

Now, the Lakers' star is limited for multiple reasons, such as his age, the total mileage on his body and the injuries that have ended each of his past three seasons. Tuesday's session, in fact, marked his first practice in nearly nine months since a season-ending shoulder injury.

The 37-year-old Bryant said he “felt good” and that he’s in great condition.

“I could run all day,” he said.

Lakers coach Byron Scott agreed.

“He looked great,” Scott said. “I told him I’m not surprised, but I’m surprised on how great his conditioning was. … He was ahead of the pack on a bunch of things that we did this morning.”

But Bryant won’t be participating in every minute of every practice. And when the team holds two sessions in one day, Bryant is expected to take part in only one of them.

For him and the Lakers, it’s about being smart.

“You don’t push it too much,” Bryant said. “You do enough running to get a sweat in, get a nice push, get your legs activated a little bit. Truthfully my conditioning is at a high level already. There’s no need to push that or you don’t want to beat up the joints, beat up the ligaments any more than you have to. It’s more so getting some game activation, the drills that we do, contact drills, timing, things like that, because I haven’t done that in a long time.”

Said Scott: “Each practice we’ll ramp it up a little bit more. We don’t want to get crazy. I thought [Tuesday] was a great start. I thought he was fantastic in our first drill and he was great in our shell drills -- pretty much everything that we did. But we wanted to keep it at a minimum, so if we went 20 minutes on one thing, we wanted to keep him at 15. We’ll keep monitoring that as we go along this week.”

Kobe BryantGary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsKobe Bryant is looking good as camp begins in Hawaii.

Their plan this week is also part of a grander scheme that both the Lakers and Bryant hope will help preserve him for his 20th NBA campaign. Bryant would like to participate in each of the team’s eight preseason games, including their two here against the Utah Jazz on Sunday and Wednesday. But he’ll be limited, as he’s expected to be throughout the season.

Bryant has to strike a balance, though. On one hand, he wants to put on an offensive show. On the other, he must listen to his body, which has failed him each of the past three seasons, with shoulder, knee and Achilles injuries cutting each campaign short.

“When I’m out there and I’m playing, I give 110 percent,” Bryant said. “That’s what you have to do. Whether it’s 15 minutes, 20 minutes or it’s 10 minutes. It’s my job to approach it with playoff intensity and playoff focus. And if I can go, I will definitely play. I’m sure we’ll limit minutes and things of that nature. But it’s definitely my responsibility to step out there and play.”

With all the miles on his body, and the severity of his injuries recently, can Bryant reasonably be expected to play all 82 regular-season games after playing just 41 games in the past two seasons? It’s unclear. Prior to 2013-14, Bryant had never missed 20 or more games in a single season. Only two players have ever played in 60 or more games in their 20th season or beyond (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parish both played in 74 games), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“It’s my job to train to be prepared for all 82,” Bryant said. “And then whether you want to scale back or I can’t play, we’ll figure it out when the time comes. It’s my job to be physically ready to play all 82. That’s always the goal.”

Bryant said he’s hopeful that however many minutes he plays -- Scott has said there will be a hard cap -- he won’t need to carry a heavy load because he can rely on some of the team’s younger players.

“All minutes definitely aren’t created equal,” Bryant said. “I think we’ve got some guys here this year that can really take a lot of load off, man. D’Angelo [Russell] and [Jordan] Clarkson and their ability to handle and create and make plays, and Julius [Randle] making plays. The minutes that I do play won’t be as heavy of minutes as they have been in the past.”

Scott is also being tentative with Bryant because Scott still feels some measure of guilt for the heavy minutes Bryant played early on last season, which led to Bryant becoming fatigued and having to miss several games before suffering his injury, a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

“I still think about it,” Scott said. “You try to forget about it as much as possible, because last year is last year, this is a new year and you try to move on. But it creeps into your mind every now and then. I think when it creeps into my mind is when I tell myself, 'OK, I’m not going to make that same mistake this year.' That’s the biggest thing that I think about.

“Like I said, with KB, it’s really listening to him, because he knows his body so much better than anybody else and he knows what he can tolerate and what he can’t. Mentally, we know that he’s probably the toughest guy in this league. He’ll play through everything, but I don’t want him to have to play through anything. I want him to play hopefully relatively injury-free and pain-free where he can have a fun year this year.”

Bryant said he doesn’t dwell on last season or the thought that he played too many minutes.

“To me it’s not much of a big deal, honestly,” he said. “Last year [I] looked at minutes that I played [and] still felt pretty good and then none of us knew I was playing with a torn shoulder all season long. But the legs felt fine. When you look at the minutes, the first thing that you’ve got to look at is the legs.”

He also said he doesn’t feel tentative about his shoulder.

“It’s a little easier to get through, honestly,” he said. “The truth is, even with a completely torn shoulder I was playing and shooting, and it felt strong still. Now that it’s fixed up, [it] should be fine. Legs are different. Everything you do on the court centers around legs. You can’t hide that stuff, you know what I mean. It’s a lot easier than dealing with the lower-leg injuries.”

In terms of staying healthy this season, Bryant is just hoping for luck.

“You just knock on wood and hope you don’t have a serious injury,” Bryant said. “The injuries I’ve had the last three years have been serious injuries. It’s not a thing where you have sore muscles or little things like that -- [just] serious injuries that are serious injuries. You just got to hope you don’t have one of those.”

Another injury could mark a sour end to a Hall of Fame career, which is the last thing Bryant and the Lakers want.

“If this is indeed his last year, I want him to go out standing,” Scott said. “I want him to go out his way. I don’t want him to be injured.”



Kobe Bryant
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
ReboundsC. Boozer 6.8
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsV. Blue 1.5
BlocksR. Sacre 0.6