Mamba returned to five-on-five drills on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning before the end of the month, but he is being cautious with his comeback.
The 35-year-old suffered a ruptured Achilles at the end of the regular season last year, and has been in rehabilitation over the summer in his bid to recover as soon as possible.
Given the circumstances, his team-mates have made an impressive 5-7 start to the season without him, but will undoubtedly be looking forward to the boost his return will give them.
Bryant practised at full speed in five-on-five drills on Tuesday and hasn’t ruled out his chances of making an appearance in the next five games.
“I think there’s areas where it still needs to get stronger in terms of the jumping and being able to plant quickly and change directions and things like that. Those are areas where you just have to get stronger … but I could adjust my game and play at a pretty high level right now,” he said, as reported by ESPN.
Coach Mike D’Antoni conceded that he has been impressed with the speed of Bryant’s recovery and claimed he looked good in practice.
However, he is keen to maintain control of expectations and has insisted that the coaching staff will monitor the star carefully before making judgement on whether or not he is ready to return to action.
“He hasn’t played since April but he looks pretty good,” D’Antoni said.
“I don’t know why that surprises me, but it does. He was up and down pretty good. A little rusty here and there, but good.”
D’Antoni jokingly told the rest of the Lakers roster that they had better take their chance now to “beat him up” in practice, as when Bryant makes a full recovery they won’t be able to.
Given the inconsistent start to the season, the NBA veteran’s return would give them additional scoring ability and help open up the floor for his younger team-mates to excel moving forward and the Lakers will still harbour realistic hopes of making the post season.