Report: Kobe Bryant to be shut down for rest of season
MAR 11, 2014 10:26p ET
It was originally thought to be just a small bump in the road. While playing himself back into game shape recovering from a torn Achilles, Kobe Bryant was having one of his best games. He felt good. It was a positive sign, an encouraging outing against one of the NBA's top defenders, Tony Allen.
What Bryant thought was just a hyperextension of his left knee on Dec. 17 in Memphis ended up being a fracture. Still the timetable was a month -- six weeks at the most -- for him to return to the lineup. It has been almost three months, and Bryant still has not seen the floor coping with a rehab process that has been "slow."
It appears his return won't be happening anytime soon as the five-time NBA champion is expected to be shut down for the rest of the season, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.
Bryant will not travel with the team for road games to Oklahoma City and San Antonio this week and will be re-evaluated by Dr. Steve Lombardo, according to the report by Ding.
Bryant originally said he would like to return this season. But as the wheels continued to fall off the Lakers wagon, many questioned would it make sense for the 35-year-old star to return and log more miles for a team that is headed for the lottery.
It appears now Bryant has no choice.
The Lakers (22-42) have 18 games remaining in the 2013-14 season. The team is coming off arguably its most impressive win of the season, a 114-110 come-from-behind effort against the Thunder.
Leading the way was Jodie Meeks with a career-high 42 points which is also the most points scored in a game by a Laker this season.
It also speaks to just how different a year this has been for one of the most iconic franchises in all of sports.
Bryant has played in only six games this season and averaged 13.8 points per game.
It's the first time since the 2001-02 season that a player not named Kobe Bryant will lead the team in scoring.
If the season were to end today, that honor would go to Pau Gasol and his 17.7 points per game.
Bryant is expected to once again be the centerpiece of the Lakers next season on a team that could look drastically different.
Bryant, after signing a two-year extension earlier this season, is one of just five players on the current roster signed through next season.
He's joined by Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, Nick Young who has a player option for next season, and Kendall Marshall who has a team option for 2014-15.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has gone on record saying he expects Young to opt out.
If so, that would only add to the plethora of cap space the team will have this summer to go along with a healthy Bryant and what they hope will be a top draft pick as the building blocks for next season.