Friday, September 7, 2007
Lakers coach says he, Kobe both want title-worthy team
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Coach Phil Jackson agrees with Kobe Bryant -- the Los Angeles Lakers need help.
"Kobe and I are very much in collusion in that we want to have
an opportunity and we want this team to have an opportunity to
succeed," said Jackson, inducted Friday night into the Basketball
Hall of Fame. "And one of Kobe's complaints is to improve the
talent and give him the teammates he can compete with. I'm in
collusion with him on that.
"We've made some changes this summer. I think we still have to
make changes to help us out."
Bryant criticized the Lakers' front office last May and asked
for a trade. He later appeared to soften his stance, but hasn't
addressed the issue much lately, so it's unclear if the two-time
scoring champion still wants to leave the only NBA team he has
The Lakers have re-signed center Chris Mihm and forward Luke Walton and added guard Derek Fisher during the offseason. Mihm was
sidelined last season with an ankle injury.
The Lakers had hoped to land Kevin Garnett, but Minnesota traded
him to the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers haven't won a playoff series since 2004, when they
appeared in the NBA finals for the fourth time in five years. They
were 42-40 last season to finish seventh in the Western Conference,
and lost to Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs for the
second straight year.
Before leaving Los Angeles for the induction ceremony, Jackson
told radio station KLAC he felt misled by a member of the Buss
"We were promised by Jim Buss we'd have big changes. We've yet
to see that," Jackson said. "We're still looking for that. And we
still are looking for that big boost in our team. So we hope we
still have one more [move] in us to include a player that really
can play ... the kind of role that you have to have to win in this
game, someone who can [score] and play defense and do the things on
the floor to help us win."
Buss, a vice president, is the son of Jerry Buss, who has owned
the team since 1979. The Lakers have won eight championships since
Jackson, who turns 62 later this month, denied a report that he
was considering retirement. He has one year remaining on the
three-year, $30 million contract he signed in 2005.
"I have an outstanding offer to return," he said. "I'm going
to see where my health holds up and that's basically where I'm at.
It's important for me to be active."
Jackson underwent his second hip replacement surgery in June.
While the Lakers expect Bryant to join them Oct. 1 when they
travel to Hawaii for the start of training camp, he hasn't been
clear with his plans.
"There's some recoup that has to be done between Kobe and his
teammates," Jackson said. "When he gets back from Asia, hopefully
they'll sit down together and talk about that."