Lakers Season Preview - Media Day

September 30, 2014

El Segundo, Calif. -  In his press conference last Friday, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak indicated that regardless of the expectations of critics "outside of this room," he anticipated the Lakers would compete for an NBA championship.

However at Lakers Media Day yesterday, other than Kobe Bryant, the comments were mostly subdued for the rest of the team, with no bold proclamations forthcoming. The general consensus was one of cautious optimism.

Rookie Julius Randle refused to specify if he had any personal expectations for the season, but did mention he would like to "be a a big-time contributor for the team."

Randle however, did offer some good news. When asked whether he could detect anything during pick-up games with Kobe Bryant that would suggest  Kobe was compromised by previous injuries, he said: "Honestly, I didn't. [Kobe's] just unbelievable. And even if he was, you couldn't tell because you knew he would make the adjustments."

Also on the positive side, Steve Nash noted his mental outlook is improved from last season. "I feel healthier mentally, for sure. I was in a really, really bad place last year during the winter."

But Nash made it clear he was careful not to "overdo it" this off season and made sure to avoid any false promises about whether his body would hold up.

"There are no guarantees that I get to play any games this year. The truth is there are a lot of miles on my back and a day or two into training camp it could all be done...It's been such a bad run with that nerve...I don't want to make any forecasts. I felt this great this summer, but it's a lot of different working out and going to the gym on your own than pounding up and down everyday...There's no guarantees. I'm just trying to enjoy every day for what I have and what I can give."

Head coach Byron Scott suggested that both Bryant and Nash should have their minutes monitored, at least during the regular season. "It all depends on how they feel, and a lot of that is up to them and [trainer] Gary Vitti. I want them fresh in April. We have to decide what we're going to do on back-to-back nights as well."

Scott's prudent approach will hopefully keep his two oldest and most accomplished players healthy throughout the season. If they aren't, being "fresh in April" is not likely to mean all that much.

New Laker Jeremy Lin offered this cautious sliver regarding the team's expectations. "I think we're going to be better than people think because people have us so low, and I don't think we're that bad."

But Lin did acknowledge that wearing a Lakers jersey, with all of the winning tradition that goes with it, was a unique experience. "Yeah, it felt different for sure...I have had so many different jerseys...There's that pressure immediately from putting it on. It's like, 'All right, you're playing for the Lakers.'"

Lin also offered an appropriately sobering response to yet another question about Linsanity and whether he can be the same player he was in New York: "The thing about Linsanity that will never ever happen again is the element of surprise because no one knew who I was...But I think at the end of my career if I'm still talking about Linsanity then I probably didn't do a very good job with my career."

Nick Young, for his part, was in a light-hearted mood. "I had a sit down with coach [Byron] Scott telling him how we should play," he joked. "Just a little stuff about defense...we need some guys in the back just in case I get blown by, we need some guys ready to block some shots."

Swaggy P also cracked that he "hurt his back" taking a charge last year and that he would leave that kind of defense to rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, whom he has calling him "Uncle Swag" and "Daddy Swag" respectively.

The ultra-focused Kobe Bryant on the other hand, noted that he and head coach Byron Scott were on the same page regarding the most important thing for the season. "It's a philosophical thing. He agrees with me...We're here for one reason only and that's to hang championship banners. Not division banners or Western Conference banners or anything else. We don't do that. That's very important for our young guys to understand."

Such lofty talk is consistent with Lakers history to be sure, and that lore is perhaps the only reason such swagger is not easily dismissed out of hand. This team, until arguably the past few seasons, has not been known for making false promises. Let's hope that such a tradition doesn't change.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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