Amidst the daily trade discussions swirling around Kobe Bryant and the Lakers this preseason, coach Phil Jackson is upset at his star player's level of commitment.
"Obviously he hasn't thrown his heart and soul into performing on the floor," Jackson told reporters after practice Saturday. "That hurts me a little bit.
He was going to work at this thing and [would] put his full being into this. Right now, he's having a hard time doing that."
Clearly Bryant disagreed with his coach's assessment.
"That [should be] the least of his concerns or anybody's concerns," Bryant said. "You don't have to worry about that. I'm ready to play. Period. You don't have to worry about me."
Sources have told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan that the Lakers and Chicago Bulls have been having daily discussions about Bryant trade possibilities for at least the past week, with Bryant's no-trade clause throwing a unique wrench into the situation, according to sources.
The Lakers are asking for a package built around Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, which is more than Chicago is willing to surrender. Also, Bryant would not want to play in Chicago if the Bulls surrendered all four of those players, believing there would not be enough talent left to compete for a championship, and he would veto that trade even if the Bulls and Lakers were both in favor of it.
Jackson also spoke to reporters about how the Lakers, as a team, were dealing with the saga around their superstar player.
"I think they are a little bit confused," Jackson said. "I think they are enjoying their time together right now But I think there's a certain sense of how does this all fit all together, which is natural because they haven't seen a situation like this before."
The Lakers open their season at home on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets.
In May, Bryant was critical of the Lakers' front office for failing to build a championship contender and asked for a trade during an interview with ESPN Radio. He initially seemed to back off that in a different interview later that day.
Bryant then avoided speaking about the Lakers until the beginning of training camp Oct. 1, when he talked more positively, saying he was looking forward to the season.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss told reporters during training camp in Hawaii that he has explored the feasibility of satisfying Bryant's trade wish and will continue to do so.
Bryant has four years, worth $88.6 million, left on his contract, but can terminate the deal in two years, leaving $47.8 million on the table.