Originally created 10/12/03

Bryant, O'Neal sit out Lakers practice



EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal sat out practice Saturday as calm returned to the Los Angeles Lakers' training camp.

Bryant had problems with his knee, which was surgically repaired the day after his alleged sexual attack on a 19-year-old woman in Colorado in June.

O'Neal's heel bothered him, so he sat and watched 40-year-old Karl Malone lead the Lakers during sprints. Former Chicago Bulls player Horace Grant replaced O'Neal at center during scrimmages.

Coach Phil Jackson said Bryant experienced stiffness and swelling while doing leg work, so he confined his workout to riding a bike. Then Bryant iced his leg and had therapy.

"That's what he's got to re-establish is his ability to have the leg strength to carry himself," Jackson said.

"The joint itself is OK and we're pretty pleased with that. But whenever you do activity, there's going to be some kind of residual swelling, stiffness, whatever else. But he's in pretty good shape. I think he'll recover and be ready to go a little bit tomorrow."

Only four reporters showed up at the team's practice gym, which provided the kind of low-key atmosphere Jackson was craving.

"That kind of lets us have a day where we feel like we can work and become a laboratory experiment day, where we're doing some real gut things - defense, full-court pressure - the things that make basketball a defensive game," the coach said.

It was a far different scene during Friday's media day when more than 50 journalists swarmed the gym and reporters crowded around Bryant asking about his legal problems.

Ron Harper, who played for Jackson during Chicago's run of NBA championships, dropped by the three-hour practice. But there's no chance he'll come out of retirement to rejoin Jackson's team.

"I'm too old to play basketball, bad back and everything," he said, laughing.

Jackson said the Lakers may begin cutting some of the 20 players on their preseason roster as soon as Monday.

Malone was first down the floor during several sprints and finished up by sprinting backward as his new teammates laughed. He and Gary Payton have gotten the idea behind the team's triangle offense, although they're still learning the fundamentals.

"It's very obvious that he's going to drive our team and Payton's going to drive our team just by their energy," Jackson said.

Fourth-year forward Devean George earned Jackson's wrath in the first 1 1/2 weeks of training camp.

"Devean's been a disappointment so far," Jackson said. "I think he came in assuming the role might just be his to be a starter. There's no assumptions. You've got to go out and produce."

Forward Rick Fox is rehabbing from foot surgery, and Jackson said there's no timetable for his return.

"We anticipate he'll be on the court playing with us in November," Jackson said. "He's worked very hard, but there's a certain amount of things he can't do - weight-bearing things, stop and start motions, jab step-type of things."