Brian Shaw believes Kobe Bryant will miss season opener, but eventually return at a high level

Brian Shaw hardly frets much anymore about the Lakers passing him in favor of Mike Brown to coach two years ago following Phil Jackson’s retirement.

The opportunity may have happened later than envisioned, but Shaw landed his first head-coaching gig this season with the Denver Nuggets following George Karl’s firing. Still, Shaw has closely monitored the Lakers. For one, Denver played them Sunday at Staples Center before heading to Ontario Tuesday for another matchup.

Even though he saw Bryant both as a teammate and assistant coach battle through injuries, Shaw shed some mixed perspective on Bryant rehabbing his left Achilles tendon.

“I think he’ll be out for the season opener,” said Shaw. “I think that’s realistic to say. But I believe he’ll take off right where he left off when he comes back.”

Bold expectations considering Bryant averaged 27.3 points last season on 46.3 percent shooting, six assists and 5.6 rebounds. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni also said Bryant hasn’t returned from to Los Angeles yet after leaving for Germany in recent days to have a procedure on his right knee.

“I wouldn’t bet against him,” Shaw said of the 35-year-old Bryant. “It’s a tough injury to come back from, but there’s no doubt in my mind he can do anything he sets his mindset to.”

What about the rest of the Lakers?

“Kobe still has that [championship] expectation, but it may be good for them to fly under the radar,” Shaw said. “They will be competitive. For the first time in a while, they won’t come into the season as the favorite or top contenders in the league. It’ll be a different vantage point they’re coming from and that may help them out.”


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