Kobe Bryant is returning to Germany for another innovative knee procedure, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Bryant, 35, made headlines in 2011 when he went there twice for treatment on his chronically sore right knee and an ailing left ankle that troubled him at the time.
Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni provided few details Thursday, saying it was not a “big deal” and Bryant would return within a few days.
“He knew he had time because he’s not getting on the court yet,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t think it caught anybody by surprise. Instead of doing it in August, he’s doing it now. There’s no concern whatsoever.”
Recovery from Orthokine or Regenokine is typically quick compared to more severe knee procedures and does not add to Bryant’s recovery time from a torn Achilles’ tendon, which remains the larger issue. His availability for the Lakers’ Oct. 29 season opener against the Clippers is still unclear.
Bryant plans to have only his knee treated but will get other areas examined as well. His Achilles’ will not be part of the treatment, a Lakers spokesman said.
Orthokine targets proteins or molecules called interleukin that cause inflammatory responses. Blood is taken from a patient’s affected area and spun in a centrifuge to create a serum that is injected back into the targeted area.
Bryant initially tried the Orthokine procedure after the 2010-11 season, when he was hobbled by an arthritic knee joint and spoke of the need to “train and get strong” during the off-season.
After the Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals, Bryant talked about “a wasted year of my life,” angry he didn’t catch Michael Jordan at six championship rings and sorry he couldn’t get one more title with former coach Phil Jackson.
Bryant raved about Orthokine after the initial treatment in Germany that summer, saying his physical improvement was a “huge plus.”
“I feel a lot stronger and a lot quicker and able to get to the basket and free-throw line,” he said.
Others provided anecdotal evidence at the time.
“He’s done some things in practice that have kind of wowed you as far as taking the ball to the basket strong and finishing with dunks in traffic,” former Lakers coach Mike Brown said in December 2011.
Bryant said he did not have the procedure in 2012.
The Lakers’ medical staff, led by longtime trainer Gary Vitti, researched the work of German molecular orthopedist Peter Wehling and made the calculated decision with Bryant for the initial treatment. Bryant had undergone three knee surgeries in the U.S. since 2003, including one in 2010 to remove unspecified loose bodies.
The Lakers are reluctant to provide a timetable on Bryant’s return from his Achilles’ surgery other than the initial one the team made in mid-April of six to nine months.
With the team now several days into training camp, Bryant shot on the court Wednesday but had not been cleared for jumping or extensive running.
Bryant is in the final year of his Lakers contract and will make $30.5 million this season.