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Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant underwent surgery on his right shoulder on Wednesday and the franchise has outlined a nine-month recovery process.
Bryant suffered a torn rotator cuff last week and was ruled out for the rest of the season as he now looks ahead to a rehabilitation process which should have him ready for next season.
The 36-year-old is expected to need nine months to recover from his third straight season-ending injury and if he meets that timetable, then he should be back in time to start training camp ahead of the 2015/16 campaign.
“I expect Kobe to make a full recovery, and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season,” Neal ElAttrache, the surgeon who carried out the procedure, said in a statement provided by the Lakers.
Bryant will turn 37 this summer but remains the NBA’s highest-paid player at $23.5m this season and he is under contract for $25m next year.
Coach Byron Scott has insisted that he expects to see him back next season despite suggestions that Bryant may consider an early retirement given his struggles with injury over the past three years.
Nevertheless, the Lakers appear confident that he will be back in the purple and gold again after proving for the most part this season that he still has plenty left in the tank.
Bryant averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 35 games this season but he made a career-worst 37.3 percent of his shots while he also struggled with general body soreness which ensured he missed a number of games throughout the campaign from December onwards.
However, his popularity hasn’t waned despite being in his 19th season in the league after he was selected to play in the All-Star Game for the 17th time, although having now had surgery he will be forced to miss out on the opportunity to feature.