Playing the role of hungry up-and-coming with serious personal goals and a career arc to begin bending, it’s Bynum. As the comfortable veteran confident that winning a championship one way is good reason to stay that way, here’s Odom.
You might have seen this story before with Kobe Bryant in the former role and Shaquille O’Neal in the latter.
Unless the Lakers roll through everybody with such dominance that it’s impossible for anyone on the team to complain about anything, the remake will probably feature a little tension, too. Bynum will again be bucking for more minutes, especially late. Odom isn’t the ego balloon that O’Neal is, but Odom’s recent comments serve as a signal that he doesn’t think the Lakers need to vary much from what worked last season.
There is obviously the threat of health issues with Bynum, but don’t think that Odom isn’t vulnerable to the injury bug, too. And it’ll be interesting to see how Odom deals if Bynum stays healthy and starts to be as productive as he should be. If those two things happen, Phil Jackson will have to work Bynum into his late-game fivesome more and more often.
If Bynum is healthy but still falling short of his personal goals, he will grumble about Jackson not using him or trusting him more; we’ve already seen that from previous seasons.
Elliott Teaford of the LA Daily News Blog wrote:Conventional wisdom suggests the Lakers will use Ron Artest to play against players Kobe Bryant used to struggle to defend. You know, players like Denver's Carmelo Anthony. Not that Bryant couldn't handle Anthony, mind you, but the addition of Artest seemed to signal that Bryant wouldn't have to joust with bigger, stronger players like Anthony because Artest would do the dirty work instead. Given a chance to set the record straight on his defensive plans for Artest, Lakers coach Phil Jackson declined. He refused to answer a question about how he might use Artest, saying ""That's all inside talk. We would never tell you about it."
Brian Kamenetzky of the LA Times Blog wrote:If it's possible to measure a team's quality by the quiet of its training camp, the Lakers may not lose a LO Layup game this year. Roughly two weeks in, we're very nearly entering tumbleweed territory. There aren't any significant position battles to monitor, no growth of a doe-eyed number one pick to measure, no KG/T-Mac Injury Watch! to document. This is great stuff for fans- drama/conflict/injuries/uncertainty are bad things- less so for the media.
That the Lakers seem unconcerned about our plight seems a little selfish, but what can you do?
Today was another bad day for those hoping for controversy. One of the big early narratives has centered around Lamar Odom and the potential distractions of his big pre-camp wedding, given the tabloid interest in the whole affair. To this point, though, it's been a non-issue. Odom's fitness coming in was, particularly by his standards, high, thanks to a summer of core work and boxing. Nor has any celebrity hubbub affected the team. "He's been just fine," Phil Jackson said after practice Monday afternoon in El Segundo. "Absolutely nothing (in terms of distractions). He's been upbeat and very productive in practices."
No question, Odom's wedding raised some eyebrows for all sorts of reasons, some more valid than others. Talking to the media today, whether intentionally or not, Odom gave a reminder that in all things context matters, and it can be very personal.
"I've been through a lot worse than getting married, you know? Even though some of it was whirlwind, things happen fast. In my life, they've always happened," he said. "Ever since I was 12, then 16. Having my grandmother then not having my grandmother. Then children, and going through things. (Note: This is a reference both to his living children and his infant son who died in 2006) Who knows? You want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. As a man, stepping into manhood, I just try to be prepared for everything that comes my way. I think I was able to do that this summer, just to prepare myself."
There was a long, quiet pause as Odom thought about what he'd just said, while we finished writing it down and wondered if he'd say anything else. "Damn, that was good," he smiled. "I'm outta here!" He pretended to head to the locker room, ready to leave on a high note of maturity and wisdom. It was another example of how Odom's unique personality. The seven or so minutes he spent with the media started with some friendly New York vs. LA smack talk regarding the upcoming Yankees-Angels ALCS, moved on to personal fitness, became more introspective as he spoke not just about his history but also his relationship with Jackson (see the video below) and ended with a joke rather than leave things on a heavier note.
Whatever you think of Odom or his nuptials, concerns that his Hollywood life would scuttle his work and the team's along with it appear in the early going unfounded, with no indication that'll change. He certainly sounds like someone who understands what's in front of the squad. "We want to think like an experienced group of guys. Ready and willing for anything. We feel like we are," he said. "We took pride in (the fact that) not too many teams that lose in the championship can get back and win. But now we expect (to win). We're the Lakers. We won a championship, and now you want to feel that again. And again, and again, and again, and again, and again. We want to get back to that point where we can stay and play on a championship level every game, every minute, every possession."
That's at least one contract extension's worth of "agains" in there, by the way, if you're keeping score.
Odom said he was lifting weights the other day, and his back “spasm’d up a little bit.” He said when he gets tired, he feels some discomfort back there. Odom suffered a hard fall in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals in Houston.
But it’s no longer an injury, and Odom has impressed Phil Jackson with his overall work in training camp.
“He’s been upbeat and very productive in practices,” Jackson said.
Odom worked on strengthening himself over the summer “from my knees to my navel to my chest.” He said the contract negotiations with the Lakers and then his sudden wedding to Khloe Kardashian in the offseason weren’t as whirlwind because he’s used to whirlwind.
“I’ve been through a lot worse than getting married,” he said. “Even though some of it’s whirlwind, in my life things always happened fast since I was 12.”
Brian Kamenetzky of the LA Times Blog wrote: * DJ Mbenga practiced again today, a welcome addition to PJ's practices. "He's running better," PJ said. "He'll get it back by tomorrow. He changes our practices around. He gives us a physical aspect, he's a contesting defender, and that makes it tough for (players in scrimmages)." Barring injury, it won't likely translate into more PT for Mbenga when the season begins- "I don't see how that would happen," Jackson said- because the minutes just aren't there. But it gets to an important point about the role of LA's bench players, something that to their credit the team's top end players make sure to mention whenever possible: Guys like Mbenga and Josh Powell may not play much, but they make practices far more competitive, improving the production of the guys who do. Depth isn't simply about who gets put on the court, it has a few different utilities.
* Regarding Sasha Vujacic, PJ said there were signs of improvement with his shot,but there's a lack of consistency. "That's something that comes and goes. We're looking for the rest of his game to improve."
* Jackson took an opportunity to crack on Luke Walton, when asked about how he's looked so far. "Luke's been good. We always know that Luke hurts himself in training camp, so we're watching him closely. He doesn't have one (right now), so don't talk about it."
Mike Trudell of Lakers.com wrote:After Phil Jackson opted not to speak specifically about how he and his coaching staff will deploy Ron Artest on defense (the Lakers will let opponents figure it out on their own), Jackson did share some thoughts on D.J. Mbenga, Sasha Vujacic, Lamar Odom and Luke Walton.
His Mbenga comments centered upon the backup center’s improving health and how vital his big body is to Lakers practices (as no one else can even pretend to guard Bynum or Gasol).
Earlier in camp, Jackson mentioned that Vujacic was struggling with his shot, but on Monday the head coach said Vujacic has had his moments in practice and suggested that there had been some improvement, as witnessed by his swishing three of four open looks in L.A.’s first preseason game (he missed his only attempt in 10 minutes in Game 2).
Lamar Odom, to Jackson, has looked both productive and happy in practice, and has shown absolutely no sign of any off-court distraction. Plain and simple.
Jackson concluded with Walton, mentioning (as assistant coach Brian Shaw had last week) that the Arizona product has played quite well in training camp, and that his lack of minutes in the first two preseason games meant little aside from the need for Ron Artest and Adam Morrison to see the floor. Jackson also mentioned his happiness that Walton has not suffered what he suggested was a routine training camp injury, knocking on wood in the process.
Odom’s thoughts were more wide-ranging, covering his current conditioning (“I could run for days”), his hurt-in-the-second-round back (still a bit sore on occasion but not troublesome), the New York Yankees (ready for the Angels!) and his team’s attitude coming off a championship instead of a Finals loss (confident but not cocky, or “experienced”).
Click the link to see video of Phil and LO being interviewed.