Kobe Bryant’s return has been a hot topic around the NBA since he was cleared medically a few weeks ago. He has been practicing and traveling with the team, so it’s been only a matter of time until he returns.
The Lakers play Portland on Sunday, then they have a layoff until Friday when they play the Kings. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA, Kobe could be suiting up for the game on Friday:
Los Angeles has no games between Sunday and Friday. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Bryant will use the three practice days to evaluate how he feels before determining whether he’s ready to return from a rupturedthat’s kept him out since April 12.
“I don’t want to anticipate anything,” D’Antoni said after practice Saturday. “Those are days that he can work and see, re-evaluate how he feels after the three days and then make a decision going forward.
“That doesn’t mean he will play Friday, doesn’t mean he won’t. But that’s the time you just evaluate, and I can’t tell you what type of evaluation that will be.”
“He’ll be listed pretty soon as ‘day to day,’” D’Antoni said. “And everybody knows that’s the way it is. When he’s ready to roll, he’ll go.
“We’ll have three days of practice, and then we’ll know better. We’ll have a better idea.”
The Lakers held an unscheduled practice on Saturday after landing back in LA at 3 AM, and it was because Kobe was able to get a full practice in. Clearly his return is extremely soon, so he could be playing on Friday. Having that many days off would benefit Bryant as he tests his Achilles, and that means this is more than just a possibility. We will see what happens as the week goes on.
As for Nash, it looks like the Lakers could be getting both of their future hall of famers back sooner rather than later:
D’Antoni said Steve Nash was due to return to the team Sunday after spending the week with his Canadian trainer, Rick Celebrini, rehabilitating from nerve root irritation in his back. Nash will be re-evaluated by Lakers’ doctors early this week, and could return to practice this week if he’s cleared.
The Lakers are 9-8 without these guys, so they could be even better when they return. Buckle up folks, Kobe’s return is so close you can taste it.