Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

The NBA season is underway. The Bulls hit the practice court Saturday, and the Lakers addressed the media Saturday at their media day.Both teams fielded questions around their superstars. Kobe's return date is uncertain, and Rose seems confident on the practice court.

ESPN:Kobe I'm Feeling Good

"I don't think we really have a particular timetable as far as where I should be right now, but I'm feeling good," Bryant said.

"Everybody was really concerned about this injury, and so was I, but the procedure and the therapy right afterwards and things like that really got me ahead of the curve," Bryant said. "So, it feels like the hard part's over."

Will Bryant play in the preseason? The regular-season opener? As late as Thanksgiving or Christmas, as teammate Steve Nash suggested earlier this week?

"I'm not expecting anything," D'Antoni said Saturday. "I don't know. He's going to do everything he can to try to get back as soon as he can. No one knows. He's day to day."

"The mental aspect of it I don't concern myself too much with," said Bryant, who mentioned David Beckham, Mariano Rivera and Peyton Manning as other athletes who have fully returned from devastating injuries. "I can't do anything about it. If I'm going to hurt something, I'm going to hurt something so I don't waste my time really thinking about that. But, I do need to get in shape. I will get in shape. It doesn't take me too long to do that. I really work hard at it and when I get back out there on the court, I'll be good to go. I don't think I've ever really played a season where I'm 100 percent, so, 78 [percent] is fine."

What isn't fine, in Bryant's mind, is the Lakers lowering their expectations just because Dwight Howard chose to join the Houston Rockets in free agency or because media outlets are counting out the team.

This time last year, Rose was answering some of the same questions as Kobe was Saturday. With Rose's missed season behind him. Rose was confident with himself after Saturday's practice.

ESPN: Bulls' Derrick Rose: 'I'm back'

"I feel [like I'm] back," Rose said after the Bulls' first practice on Saturday. "I'm not worried about anything. I'm reacting when I'm out there, just trying to win every scrimmage and just trying to push everybody to be better."

Rose feels better and acknowledged he felt more comfortable than he did during his practice sessions with the Bulls last season. Rose, who tore his ACL in the first game of the Eastern Conference playoffs on April 28, 2012, practiced with the Bulls throughout the second half of the season but never played in a game, even after being medically cleared by team doctors.

"I got confidence in my knee," Rose said. "There's no testing anymore. It's me just going out there and playing hard and attacking."

Rose admitted that Saturday marked the first time since last season that he did any five-on-five work, preferring to train on his own, or in small groups, during the summer with personal trainer Rob McClanaghan. The difference in his confidence level was noticeable to his teammates and coaches.

"I think he's comfortable," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "His body is strong, real strong, and he's attacking. Today he attacked the basket a lot more than he ever did last year. ... He doesn't have to pace himself like he did so that part's a lot better. The change of direction is much better. The driving and finishing is a lot better. His timing's still not there but it's a good start."

This is my personal opinion, but I don't think it's going to be a walk in the park right away for the Bulls.I would have to rank the Pacers, and Nets in front of them right now. The Bulls are a threat because of Tom Thibodeau's defense.It wouldn't surprise me if the Bulls compete for a title, but I don't know if this is the same squad from 2011 that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Follow Shawn on Twitter- @Celticstitletow

shawn cassidy 9/29/2013 02:24:00 AM Edit
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