Jim Buss predicts Kobe Bryant will return in preseason

Jim Buss just made a bet in Las Vegas that few would make.

The Lakers vice president of player personnel revealed to NBA TV on Thursday that Kobe Bryant appears so far ahead of schedule in returning from a torn left Achilles tendon that he couldn’t help but pour all his chips into one scenario.

“I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in the preseason,” Buss said during the broadcast of the Lakers’ Las Vegas Summer League game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Thomas & Mack Center. “He’s real sharp in taking care of himself. He’s not going to rush anything just to get back to prove a point. He’s going to come back when he is right. He’s a machine and is inhuman that way. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can’t believe how much he progressed so far.”

The Lakers have officially estimated Bryant will return at least six to nine months since suffering the injury in mid April, putting his timetable anywhere between October and January. Bryant last week expected to become more active in his rehab in August, but has penciled in a return sometime in November or December. The Lakers will likely play their season opener in late October.

Bryant’s latest progress has entailed shooting free throws at the Lakers’ practice facility in recent weeks. But he hasn’t advanced to any intense workouts just yet. But if Buss is correct, that moment will come soon.

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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