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Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lakers’ coach optimistic about Bryant

Jackson says he thinks Kobe ‘will be a Laker next October when training camp opens’

June 19, 2007

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— While recovering from hip surgery at home, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson weighed in Monday on the latest movement in the Kobe Bryant ordeal, sounding a positive note for Bryant's future with the troubled team.

Jackson, who had hip-replacement surgery Tuesday, has spoken with Bryant numerous times since the nine-time All-Star demanded a trade May 30, an action Bryant reiterated last Friday.

"He's made a decision that he feels justified to hold - one that I've questioned - that he has reasons to leave the Lakers," Jackson said Monday. "However, it's my unshakeable feeling that Kobe will be a Laker next October ... when training camp opens."

Bryant credited his coach as being a voice of reason during Bryant's now-infamous day of seemingly contradictory talk-radio and newspaper interviews back on May 30.

Bryant said he wanted to be traded on an ESPN talk-radio show early that day but appeared to leave wiggle room for remaining with the Lakers on subsequent radio shows.

Then, later in the day, he told the Times that he indeed wanted to be traded.

Also that day, Bryant said Jackson offered some soothing early-afternoon words as they discussed a passage in a recent article by the Times that referred to a Lakers "insider" who blamed Bryant for the departure of Shaquille O'Neal in 2004.

Jackson, 61, is expected to recover within a few weeks from his second hip-replacement surgery and will attend Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in September.

Jackson had his right hip replaced last October.

Jackson has one year left on a three-year, $30 million contract.

The Lakers finished 42-40 last season and lost to Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

Meanwhile, as the Bryant soap opera continues, a teaser clip touting amateur video of Bryant complaining about Lakers management and advocating trading center Andrew Bynum has hit the Internet.

The makers of the video have been attempting to profit from Bryant's unhappiness with the Lakers and plan to sell the video online. They went to the Lakers more than a month ago about being paid to suppress the video and later approached various news outlets including the Orange County Register. The video was said to be filmed outside a Newport Beach, Calif., shopping center near Bryant's home.

A repeatedly spooled one-second clip, in which Bryant uses a profanity, was posted to YouTube.com to hype its sale.

Bryant's dissatisfaction has led to a request to be traded, although a May 30 farewell-oriented post from Bryant to his Web site was taken down Monday.

The Lakers have said they don't intend to trade him.

Bryant has said he might be appeased by Jerry West's return to the Lakers front office after his contract with Memphis expires June 30.

West told the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Monday that he plans to retire and will not consult for the Grizzlies: "I don't want to be seen. I don't want to be heard. I want to disappear."

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