LA Lakers Will Not Rush Kobe Bryant to Return This Season

Don’t be surprised if Kobe Bryant doesn’t return to action soon, Los Angeles Lakers fans.

As “The Black Mamba” continues to recover from a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left leg—which he sustained Dec. 17 against the Memphis Grizzlies—general manager Mitch Kupchak insists that the organization will not pressure the veteran to return quickly, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

“We’re not going to push him to get back,” Kupchak said. “I don’t see why you would. We’ve made a commitment to him for two more years, and I just don’t know why we’d [push him to come back]. But if he feels he’s ready and he’s in shape and he gets the doctor’s approval, then there’s no reason why he couldn’t do that.”

Including a 134-108 blowout loss against the Houston Rockets on Feb. 19, Bryant has missed 30 games since his latest setback (49 games total).

The 35-year-old veteran said during the NBA All-Star break that his recovery is “coming slowly” and that “it’s been a slow process,” per the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch.

With 54,208 career minutes played (regular season plus playoffs), it’s becoming clear that Bryant’s body is not as resilient as it has been in years past. He’s clocked numerous miles on the odometer, and now Father Time is starting to nip at his heels.

The future Hall of Famer signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension in November before he had played a single minute in 2013-14. Given that the Lakers have invested a huge amount of money in the five-time champion through the 2015-16 season, it makes perfect sense that they don’t intend to rush his recuperation.

The narrative might have been different if the Lakers were competing for a playoff berth in 2014. As it stands, th...

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