Lakers to defer to Kobe Bryant on practice participation

As the Lakers monitor Kobe Bryant’s progress from rehabbing his left Achilles tendon, the issue has never been whether they would medically clear him to participate in any basketball activities.

To what degree Bryant participates in practice beginning Tuesday hinges on how comfortable he feels ramping up his activity. That’s why the Lakers can’t say for sure whether Bryant will fully practice Tuesday after spending Saturday’s session competing in a series of five on zero, shooting and strategy drills.

“If he’s feeling up to it,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “The ball is in his court so to speak. If he wants to, he can.”

The Lakers have medically cleared Bryant for all basketball activities dating back to last month when he began running and shooting drills during the team’s preseason trip to China. As a form of tapering, Bryant then scaled back his workouts both to build more flexibility in his Achilles tendon and avoid additional strain on his ankle. Last week, Bryant then ramped up his running without making any lateral cuts.

The Lakers haven’t offered any timeline on when Bryant could play in a game. But after the Lakers played a league-high 12 games in the first four weeks of the regular season, Bryant could benefit from the team’s quirk in their schedule. The Lakers took off Monday following their win the previous night against the Detroit Pistons. The Lakers don’t play until Friday against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center, leaving Bryant with three days to ramp up his practice workouts. Still, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni sounded skeptical on Sunday as to whether Bryant could return Friday against the Warriors.

“You’re dealing with if he’s sore today or if there’s a setback tomorrow,” D’Antoni said. “We need to be cautious. We just better be cool and chill out a bit.”


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