Kobe Bryant told reporters at a Nike promotional event Wednesday that he doesn’t plan to return when the Lakers play Friday against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena, adding further uncertainty on when he’ll play for the first time since injuring his left Achilles tendon seven months ago.
Kobe tells me he’s getting closer to returning but that he’s not planning on playing Friday (Lakers’ next game)
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) December 5, 2013
#Kobe tells me he is not playing Friday.
— janewells (@janewells) December 5, 2013
Bryant didn’t speak to Lakers reporters before practicing Wednesday. Bryant made his comments at his event to promote his Nike “Kobe 9” shoes to a handful of national reporters.
The Lakers had held out hope Bryant could return Friday against the Kings had he successfully completed practices Wednesday and Thursday without any setbacks. But they also urged caution considering the unpredictable nature surrounding Bryant’s Achilles tendon injury.
“I don’t think anyone knows,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He even doesn’t know. He’ll go full blow today and then we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. If that happens tomorrow, then Friday looks good. But we don’t know that for sure.”
Reporters were allowed to see the first 15 minutes of Wednesday’s practice before being asked to leave. During that time, Bryant took part in shooting drills on a side basket before eventually joining his teammates for a series of 5-on-0 weave drills. Bryant completed the rest of Wednesday’s practice without limitations, which partly included full-court five-on-five scrimmaging. Bryant will decide Thursday morning to what degree he feels comfortable participating in tomorrow’s practice.
That leaves Bryant with the chance to return when the Lakers host the Toronto Raptors Sunday at Staples Center.
“I don’t want him to go until he’s comfortable and confident in playing and doing whatever he needs to do out there,” Lakers center Pau Gasol said. “That’s the perfect scenario. We don’t want him to play Friday if he’s not ready to play. We don’t want him to play Sunday if he’s not ready to play Sunday.”
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