How Early Kobe Bryant Return Would Jump-Start LA Lakers’ Season

The Los Angeles Lakers are growing confident that Kobe Bryant will return for preseason action in mid-October, which could mean a jump-start to a downtrodden L.A. squad much earlier than expected.

Jim Buss was interviewed on NBA TV during a Los Angeles Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks summer-league game, and he told everybody watching that Bryant was far ahead of schedule:

Well, we're in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason. He's real sharp in taking care of himself and he's not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He's going to come back when he's right. He's a machine. He's inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can't believe how much he's progressed so far.

The early projection for Bryant's return was anywhere from six-to-nine months. That six-month mark would land him back in purple and gold right in the middle of preseason play.

Bryant was aiming for a return sometime in November, or December at the latest, so it is a bit surprising that Buss is talking about a comeback before the regular season even starts.

This news does two things for Los Angeles: It gives credence to the moves the Lakers made this offseason and it improves their chances to make the playoffs.

With Bryant potentially missing a month of playing time or more, it made more sense for the Lakers to part with their remaining players for youth and draft picks, while letting Bryant take his time recovering.

Instead, the Lakers watched as Dwight Howard hightailed it out of Los Angeles and responded by signing veteran center Chris Kaman, former Laker Jordan Farmar, former Top Five pick Wesley Johnson and USC alum Nick Young.

While they aren't huge moves, they are attempts to surround Kobe, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash with productive players in an effort to make an apparent playoff ...

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