Lakers News: LA Must Continue Caution with Kobe Bryant Despite Encouraging Rehab

Any success the Los Angeles Lakers experience in 2013-14 depends heavily with superstar shooting guard Kobe Bryant's health.

As intensely competitive as the five-time NBA champion is entering his 18th pro season, the organization must exercise caution in bringing him back after offseason surgery on his torn Achilles.

Coming back from that type of injury—especially since it happened in the third-to-last game of the regular season against the Golden State Warriors—seems almost impossible.

But leave it to the Black Mamba to cleverly slither past other athletes in previous predicaments, much like he still surprisingly does on the court en route to the paint area.

According to renowned medical doctor Robert Klapper, Bryant will be about "80 percent" of what he was last season and could very well be ready for the Oct. 29 season opener against the Clippers:

If that's the case, 80 percent of Bryant is better than just about anyone else, and it's about as good as the Lakers could hope if he comes back as early as the first regular-season game. Another extremely encouraging sign is that Bryant posted an Instagram video of himself running on a treadmill just days ago.

The fact that Bryant has a rather optimistic evaluation from Klapper and that he's already doing at least some light running with no visible sign of limping suggests he could indeed hit the court in the Staples Center in about two months' time.

However, any premature return could threaten the rest of Bryant's career—along with the future of the Lakers' franchise in both the short and long term.

Some may view the impending campaign as somewhat of a throwaway year, but several factors beg outsiders to take on the opposite perspective. In order to lure free agents to LA, having a respectable season would certainly help.

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