BEIJING – After Los Angeles' exhibition loss to the Golden State Warriors in China on Tuesday, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said that he is not expecting Kobe Bryant to play when the regular season opens in two weeks.
Asked if there is any chance Bryant plays the Oct. 29 opener, D’Antoni said, “No, I don’t think so. I think it’s an ongoing process, but that would be tough.”
D’Antoni later elaborated, saying that there just don’t seem to be enough days left for Bryant to get fully ready for opening night against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers have another game the next night at Golden State.
D’Antoni also said that he didn’t want to put a definitive "yes" or "no" on it for Bryant, who is not yet ready to get on the court for practice: “He’s superhuman, so you never know.”
While D’Antoni was focusing on the players on the court Monday at Lakers practice, that other guy was running around the arena concourse, testing himself after three days of what he’d called major progress on the treadmill.
Although Bryant didn’t speak to reporters Tuesday, D’Antoni relayed that he wasn’t hugely enthused by the results of Bryant's test.
“I think it’s good; no one said it was bad,” D’Antoni said. “So obviously it was one of his first steps. … Not quite yet ready to get on the court. So we’ll just have to wait a while.”
D’Antoni suggested that as the practice days tick away—more than half of training camp is done—without Bryant having done more than some light shooting, the odds stack against him being ready for the opener. On Monday, the coach said that he didn’t want to speculate but was “proceeding normally that [Bryant] wouldn’t be there” at the start of the regular season.
Bryant said on Monday that he had no soreness in the surgically repaired left Achilles and could probably play if it were the playoffs instead of the preseason.
Asked about Bryant on Tuesday in China, NBA commissioner David Stern said: "He's been playing for a very long time as our viewership and interest in our game has grown dramatically, and he has come to this country quite often and understands what it is to cultivate a fan base which totally understands that he has, shall I say, the heart of a champion.
"His Chinese fans totally expect him beyond all odds to make a full recovery from his injury because they have come to have enormous confidence in his ability and his determination. And I think that's because he's shown the ability and determination at different stages in his career to win, to play at his highest and to elevate his teammates."
Kevin Ding covers the Lakers and the NBA for Bleacher Report.