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Ailing knee keeps Kobe on the sidelines again

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Kobe Bryant sat out practice for the second straight day Monday because of a sore knee, and said he didn't know if he'd play in the Los Angeles Lakers' next exhibition game.

The Lakers face the Seattle SuperSonics on Thursday night in Bakersfield — the first of six exhibition games in nine days.

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said Bryant asked to rest his legs, adding that treatment included ice and massage. Bryant wasn't available to the media afterward, but before leaving the Lakers' practice facility, he expressed uncertainty concerning Thursday night, saying he would continue treatment.

Bryant has said very little to reporters since team owner Jerry Buss said last week in Honolulu that he "would certainly listen" to trade offers for the Lakers' star.

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. He asked to be traded 4 1/2 months ago, but told reporters on Oct. 1 that frustration led to his blowup and the time had come to move on.

Five players sat out practice Sunday — Bryant, Lamar Odom (shoulder) Maurice Evans (hamstring), Chris Mihm (ankle) and Kwame Brown (ankle), and Ronny Turiaf left after straining his neck. Derek Fisher sat out a scrimmage at the end of practice because of sore feet.

All returned Monday except Bryant, although Odom's work was limited.

"I feel like we're turning the corner on it," Jackson said regarding the injuries. "Lamar's got a ways to go. Other than that, we're pretty optimistic."

Odom won't play Thursday night, and Brown is considered doubtful. Jackson said there was a better chance that Brown would play this weekend. The Lakers, Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Bobcats will participate in doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday at Staples Center.

Odom repeated what he said at the start of training camp — that he plans to play in the season opener on Oct. 30 against Houston.

"I'm a gamer — just throw me out there," said Odom, who underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his left (shooting) shoulder last spring. "I'm ready to play, but I have to take my time. For right now, everything seems positive. I might not need any exhibition games."

When asked how much pain he was in, Odom replied: "It's not as much as when I first did it. I play with that."

Odom sat out five games last March after being diagnosed with a torn labrum. He underwent surgery after the Lakers were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.