Mamba had been expected to return after the campaign had begun.
Los Angeles Lakers vice president Jim Buss expects Kobe Bryant to be back for pre-season training as he remains ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon.
Speaking to NBA TV, Buss revealed his belief that the work Bryant has put in to his rehabilitation to this point will see him return just six months after suffering the injury.
That would put him in line to feature in the Lakers training camp in October, and it is clear following Dwight Howard’s decision to join the Houston Rockets that the 34-year-old Lakers legend will be required more than ever next season.
“Well, we’re in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason,” Buss told reporters as quoted by ESPN.
“He’s real sharp in taking care of himself and he’s not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He’s going to come back when he’s right. He’s a machine. He’s inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can’t believe how much he’s progressed so far.”
Buss also went on to discuss the Howard situation, and moved to reassure Lakers fans that the organisation had prepared for his exit. The Lakers VP ultimately revealed that the franchise saw it as “renting him for a year”, and have plans to be competitive now that he has departed.
Speculation has suggested that the organisation will look to make a big splash in free-agency next summer, with Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James tipped to be on their shortlist while there are several other attractive options.
While that would appear unrealistic at this stage, Buss has clearly hinted that the Lakers have a plan in place for the future. That may involve being relatively quiet in making moves this summer, but it will help to improve their financial position ahead of next summer.