The Los Angeles Lakers have been awaiting the return of Kobe Bryant for quite a while now since the veteran star suffered another injury to his knee after returning from a torn Achilles for six games. However, it seems now that his return isn’t going to happen this season.
According to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, the Lakers plan to shut down Bryant for the rest of the 2013-14 NBA season sometime this week. The news of Bryant being shut down comes the same day as reports that Bryant’s progress in coming back from his latest injury was moving slowly. Bryant was originally given a six-week timetable for his return, but has now missed 12 weeks and ending his season will mean he’ll miss 17 weeks due to the injury.
While it would be fantastic to see one of the all-time greats take the floor once again this season, the Lakers are approaching this decision wisely. In short, shutting down Bryant for the rest of the year and doing so right now is the only plausible move for them to make given their circumstances.
The Lakers are one of the worst teams in the league right now and are set up to have one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA Draft lottery, given that the ping pong balls are drawn in their favor. Bringing Bryant back, assuming he could play at a decently high level, would only jeopardize their positioning in the draft.
Moreover, the Lakers have only three players, including Bryant, under contract after this season. While that might seem irrelevant, it actually brings more of a reason for the team to shut down Bryant. Allowing him to continue to take his time rehabbing his injury and then come back at full strength next season means this team can have more of a fresh start and start next season with a new core.
If you’re a Lakers fan, the rest of this season is going to be tough to watch. This team is a wreck of epic proportions right now and not getting Bryant back this year will only add to the depression that fans are likely settling into. However, if you look not far ahead to next season, not bringing Bryant back makes the future look much more promising, as strange as that may seem.