Kobe Bryant Injury: Lakers Can Afford to Give Superstar Time to Heal

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 21:  Dwight Howard #12 (L) and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks as they warm up to play the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on October 21, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers can go ahead and scratch Kobe Bryant from the lineup for Tuesday's season opener. They'll be fine without him.

The star guard has suffered a bruise and strain to his right foot. According to Sporting Newshis status for the season opener against the Dallas Mavericks is still up in the air. The severity of an injury like this is always hard to gauge, but Kobe should take his time inserting himself back in the lineup.

Bryant did not make the trip to Sacramento with the team for their final preseason game on Thursday to rest his ailing foot. According to head coach Mike Brown:

"He came in and got some treatment for his foot... It didn't make sense for him to make the bus trip because he needs to elevate the foot. And the 2 1/2-hour ride down and back would not be good."

Obviously this isn't an injury that will hold Kobe out for a lengthy period of time, but it would be wise for the Lakers to take a patient approach to getting him on the court.

Holding Kobe out of the season opener against Dallas may not be the popular thing to do. No one wants to see their team's biggest star sit out the first game of a season with high expectations. However, if it is deemed that him sitting out will increase his chances of better health down the road, then he needs to sit out.

The fact of the matter is that the season is a marathon. With Kobe now a 16-season veteran, keeping him healthy will be one of the bigger tasks that the Lakers are faced with this season. Putting him in a position where he is playing with a nagging injury this early in the season could put too much wear and tear on a body that will need to be fresh when spring rolls around.

When it comes down to it, the Lakers should give Bryant as much rest as he needs simply because they can.

The Lakers' moves this offseason make them one of the deepest teams in the league. Even if they hypothetically lost Kobe for the season, they could still win a playoff series.

The Lakers open the season with Dallas at home. The Mavericks will be without their biggest star in Dirk Nowitzki, who is recovering from knee surgery, so they should still be favored at home. After that they go on the road to play the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Blazers are an intriguing young team, but they don't have the talent to keep up with the Lakers' core sans Kobe quite yet.

With two easy matchups on deck for the Lakers to open the season before coming home to play the Clippers, the Lakers can afford to let Kobe get to 100 percent before beginning the grind of the regular season.