Lakers Not Rushing Kobe Bryant Back Is Best Bet for LA’s Long-Term Success

As if the Los Angeles Lakers needed any more bad news to start the 2013-14 NBA season—between Steve Nash's slow recovery, Shawne Williams' spot as the starting power forward and a brutal early schedule—now comes word that Kobe Bryant has stepped back from full weight-bearing training to run instead on an altered-gravity treadmill.

Don't call it a setback, though. The Lakers certainly won't. According to team spokesman John Black, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, the decision to shift Bryant's rehab was his own, not that of the Lakers' training staff.

In truth, it doesn't really matter what the official term is for Kobe's latest status. The fact is, he still has a long way to go before he's ready to return from the torn Achilles that ended his 2012-13 season. There's no telling when Bryant will be back in action.

And that's fine.

It's all well and good that Kobe, the competitive maniac that he is, wants to do everything he can to cut down his recovery time and start playing basketball again. But there's no point in anyone rushing Bryant back or for Kobe to do so himself.


Prepping for a Playoff Push

Make no mistake: This year's Lakers aren't contending for the 2014 title.

Even Mike D'Antoni, LA's much-maligned head coach, has acknowledged that there are reasons to believe this season could be a struggle for the purple and gold, via McMenamin again: "I can understand why ESPN, I think they picked us 12th and I understand that. If my producer told me, 'OK, make them 12th,' I could put out a case there why they're 12th."

D'Antoni, though, was quick to note that hopes for playoff basketball in Lakerland aren't exactly baseless, either:

But if my producer says, 'Make them a playoff team,' here you go: Kobe gets well, Steve Nash has a very good year, Pau Gasol is one of the best centers in the l...

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