Lakers set to play exhibition game in San Diego


By City News Service

The Los Angeles Lakers will make their annual appearance in San Diego tonight, but it is “very possible” Kobe Bryant won’t play in the exhibition game at the Valley View Casino Center, coach Phil Jackson said.

Bryant is listed as questionable as he continues to recover from off-season surgery on his right knee.

Bryant has started all six of the Lakers’ exhibition games, averaging 11 points and 19.5 minutes per game, making 27.3 percent of his shots, including two of 13 in Tuesday’s 82-74 loss to Utah at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

A decision on whether Luke Walton, a University of San Diego High School graduate, will play in the game against the Golden State Warriors will be made Thursday, Jackson said.

Walton has missed all six exhibition games because of a moderate strain to his right hamstring.

“We’ll see how he feels (today),” Jackson said following Wednesday’s practice at the team’s El Segundo headquarters. “He wasn’t ready to play (Tuesday) night, but he got a full practice (Wednesday).”

The Lakers have been scheduled to play an exhibition game in San Diego each year since 1999. The 2007 game was canceled because of the wildfires burning throughout San Diego County.

San Diego has not had an NBA team since 1984, when the Clippers moved to Los Angeles after playing six seasons in what is now the Valley View Casino Center, which is now considered inadequate to serve as a home court for an NBA team.

The lack of an adequate arena is considered to be the major impediment to the NBA returning to San Diego.

The NBA has no plans to expand in the foreseeable future and no teams are expected to relocate, Tim Frank, the league’s senior vice president of basketball communications, told City News Service.