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Lakers’ Jackson still asking for patience

first_imgEL SEGUNDO — At his welcome back news conference in June, Phil Jackson sent writers and fans alike racing to the dictionary with his declaration that he wouldn’t be a “panacea” for the Lakers this season. There was no confusion, though, when Jackson said he would be “most amazed” if the Lakers were contending for a championship by the last of the three years he is under contract to coach. Even so, Jackson again played down expectations, though the Lakers do play in a conference where seven teams won at least 49 games last season. “We don’t think that by and large that we’re anywhere close to a team that could step out and challenge in this conference that we’re in,” Jackson said. “This is a difficult conference. But we anticipate that in the next year, two years, we’re going to be able to develop that talent.” In between questions about his relationship with Jackson, Kobe Bryant was asked Monday about his coach setting the bar so low. “I haven’t put a cap or a ceiling on what we can do,” Bryant said. “It’s one of those things where if the team gels and we’re executing the right way, you never know what may happen.” Odom, meanwhile, said he can sense many people already are counting out the Lakers. He said the only goal is getting to the playoffs, because that comes with the chance of playing for a championship. Can the Lakers advance to the second round or beyond? They have finished out of the playoffs in back-to-back years only once before, in 1975 and 1976. “I think so,” Odom said. “I know so.” Bryant sounded almost compliant Monday in talking about Jackson, even declaring, “He’s the coach, I’m the player. He gives me things that he needs me to execute or things that he needs me to do, I do them. …” Odom estimated his left shoulder was about 85 percent and said he would not rush things in the preseason. Odom has not been cleared to play after undergoing surgery in April to repair a torn labrum. He might have to miss early exhibition games. Forward Jumaine Jones, the subject of trade rumors, was not at media day after taking an elbow to the face over the weekend. A team spokesman said Jones would be on the Lakers’ flight to Hawaii. Ross Siler can be reached at (818) 713-3607. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! He might not be a miracle worker, but sometime during Jackson’s season away, the Zen master turned into a master of managing expectations. He was at it again last week, speaking about winning 44, maybe 45, games and fighting for a playoff spot. The question, then, as the Lakers held their annual media day and left for training camp in Honolulu, was whether the coach with nine championship rings might have designs on something greater than the eighth seed in the Western Conference. center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “Phil is a winner,” forward Devean George said. “I don’t think he’s going to come back and expect us to be mediocre. I think he wants to come back and get everything out of us and himself that he can. “I’m not sure if we’re satisfied with 45 (wins) as players. I don’t know, I think we want to make more of an improvement than 10 wins from last season.” After finishing 34-48 and missing the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, success can be measured modestly for the Lakers. Yet there are clues that Jackson expects greater things sooner, particularly if Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown develop this season. Jackson said last week that Brown, who underachieved in four seasons in Washington, could be the difference between being good and “really good.” There also is frequent talk about the redemption of the Lakers, something that would require more than a first-round playoff exit. He said Monday that the Lakers offered the best chance of being competitive in the shortest period of time as he mulled his return to coaching. He compared this season’s team to his 1994-95 Chicago Bulls that finished 47-35 with Michael Jordan returning for the final 17 games. The Bulls went 72-10 the following season. last_img read more