After a turbulent summer in which Bryant ripped management and demanded a trade, team convenes for training camp without having made major personnel upgrades.
L.A. Times: First, the good news for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant is expected to answer the roll call when the squad gathers for the first time Monday to begin the 2007-08 season with its annual media day at the team’s El Segundo facility before boarding an afternoon flight to Hawaii for the start of preseason training camp.
Now the bad news.
Kevin Garnett won’t be there. Nor will Jermaine O’Neal. Nor will any other big-name addition to a team that struggled to reach the playoffs last year only to make a quick, first-round exit against the Phoenix Suns.
That early elimination triggered a lot of finger pointing and public outrage highlighted by Bryant’s on-again, off-again demand to be traded, leaving a question whether Bryant would even put his uniform back on for this season. Bryant also criticized owner Jerry Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak and endorsed the idea of trading Andrew Bynum. Jim Buss, the owner’s son and heir apparent for the reins of power, publicly rejected the idea of letting Bryant go and expressed his distaste for the motivational techniques of Coach Phil Jackson. Jackson responded by backing Bryant and leaving his own future with the team beyond this season up in the air.
Good thing they did all this in the off-season, because who would have time left to concentrate on games?