Jim Buss Talks Dwight Howard, Kobe’s Health During Lakers Summer League Action

Kobe Bryant is just three months removed from a torn Achilles, and Dwight Howard's exit from L.A. is probably still stinging, but neither of those things stopped Los Angeles Lakers vice president Jim Buss from delivering a sparklingly optimistic outlook on his team's future.

In an interview with NBA TV during the Lakers' Summer League contest against the Milwaukee Bucks, Buss did his best to stir the hopes of Lakers fans by pegging Bryant's return at a startlingly early date. He told Rick Kamla and Sam Mitchell:

We're in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that [Bryant] comes back probably preseason...He's real sharp in taking care of himself and he's not going to rush anything just to get back just to prove a point. He's going to come back when he's right.

He's a machine; he's inhuman that way. I see him coming back at the beginning of the season.

Let's parse the logic of Buss' response.

His first mistake is pinning himself to a Bryant return before the season starts. He quickly realizes he's been a bit overzealous and then hedges his bet by assuring fans that Bryant won't rush back. Having sufficiently backtracked, Buss then says that No. 24 will be back at the beginning of the season.

For what it's worth, Bryant's recovery time was set at six to nine months, which means his earliest possible return wouldn't be until mid-October. So in that sense, Buss' initial estimate—clearly a best-case scenario—isn't too far off.

But the man clearly needs a primer in the art of managing expectations.

Buss also talked briefly about Howard's decision to leave the Lakers. Based on dime-store psychoanalysis, it appears that he's somewhere between "bargaining" and "denial" in his progression through the stages of grief. Buss said:

When we traded for him, basically we knew we were renting him for a year...We were prepared. It wasn't a shock to our system ...

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