Lakers News: Kobe Bryant’s Speedy Recovery Will Make Team Contenders

It's been a rough couple months for the Los Angeles Lakers. After losing Kobe Bryant to a torn Achilles tendon in April, the Lakers were unable to re-sign Dwight Howard. They also lost long-time starting small forward Metta World Peace, whom they amnestied. 

Even though Howard brings plenty of antics off the court, he still has the most pure talent of any center in the league.

The Lakers have made a number of signings to try and revamp a roster that finished with a disappointing 45-37 record. They signed center Chris Kaman, small forward Wesley Johnson, shooting guard Nick Young and point guard Jordan Farmar.

Still, even with the new additions, the Lakers will not be able to contend if Bryant cannot recover from his injury.

Fortunately, it seems like he's ahead of schedule on his recovery. Arash Markazi of ESPN LA notes that Bryant could be back by preseason:

Lakers vice president Jim Buss updated NBA TV (via ESPN LA) on Bryant's recovery:

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.

Bryant's competitive fire is legendary, so it's not surprising that he's making a faster-than-expected recovery. Achilles injuries are tricky, however, so an early return is not guaranteed.

That said, if Bryant does come back and can play at his normal level of play, then the Lakers have a legitimate chance of contending.

While losing Dwight Howard is tough, Chris Kaman has been one of the most underrated centers in the league for some time. Playing with the Dallas Mavericks last season, Kaman averaged 10.5 ...

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