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There are a tons of things the Los Angeles Lakers need to worry about between now and the start of next season.
Will Dwight Howard return? If he does, will Mike D'Antoni actually tweak his system to fit Howard's strengths? Will the team add some outside shooters? Can the team put behind it the circus that permeated the 2012-13 season?
One thing the team doesn't need to worry about, however, is whether Kobe Bryant will be available for the start of next season. After such a disastrous year, the last thing the team needs is its leading scorer and leader rushing back from injury.
Even if he thinks he'll be ready for the start of next season (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN):
Stitches removed, out of a cast and with nearly six weeks of rehabilitation under his belt since surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg, Kobe Bryant is still hoping for a return by the Los Angeles Lakers' 2013-14 season opener.
"I hope so," Bryant said in a sit-down interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday. "That's the challenge. With the tendon, there's really only but so much you can do. There's a certain amount of time that they deem necessary for the tendon to heal where you don't overstretch it and now you never get that spring back.
"So, you just have to be patient, let the tendon heal, and then when that moment comes when they say, 'OK, we can take off the regulator so to speak and now it's on you to train as hard as you can to get back to where you want to be,' that's going to be a good day."
Walking in my "medical mamba" shoes made by Nike in 2 weeks with extra support for the Achilles… http://t.co/fmJLy8bBjG— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) May 31, 2013
Look, in his prime Bryant could probably recover at the rate of freaks of nature like Adrian Peterson—who recovered from a different but equally difficult injury to rehabilitate, a torn ACL, very quickly—or Robert Griffin III, but he's no longer a young man.
He's 34. A realistic period of time for recovery is to be expected.
Now, no one is saying Bryant should go all Derrick Rose on the Lakers and keep himself on the sidelines well after he's been cleared by doctors to return. If he's truly good to go by the season opener, then by all means, he should play.
Bryant is one of the smarter athletes out there, so the above message isn't really for him. Rather, it's for fans who will read into his comments and expect a speedy recovery like we've seen in recent times from athletes like Peterson.
With recovery times becoming such a huge story between Rose during the playoffs and RG3 during the NFL offseason, it's natural to speculate or prognosticate about a star athlete's recuperation. But generally speaking, it's best to assume an athlete will be back whenever he is ready to go.
If that means Bryant misses time at the beginning of next season, so be it. The Lakers have plenty of other concerns more pressing than that.