The Lakers announced Sunday that star Kobe Bryant will be re-evaluated in three weeks and is still experiencing "swelling and soreness' in his leg. Bryant suffered a fractured tibia weeks after returning from a torn Achilles tendon in the same leg this season.
Missing three more weeks before another evaluation brings the calendar to March 14, at which point there will be only 17 games left in the regular season for the Lakers. And even if Bryant is cleared for contact drills at that point, he would assuredly need some additional practice time before he could make a return.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear prior to the re-examination, which was done at halftime of the Lakers' game against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, that the Lakers want Bryant back at 100 percent before he returns to the lineup this season.
"We're not going to push him to get back," Kupchak said. "I don't see why you would. We've made a commitment to him for two more years, and I just don't know why we'd do that [push him to come back]. But if he feels he's ready and he's in shape and he gets the doctor's approval, then there's no reason why he couldn't do that."
Bryant was supposed to return in four weeks after suffering the injury in late December. Instead, he's looking at least a 12-week recovery period. The reasons to bring Bryant back are few and mostly sentimental. The Lakers moved to the sixth spot in the lottery Friday night with a win over woeful Boston, and need every lottery ball they can grab.
Bryant will want to play, but there's just not much point. The Lakers are some combination of 14 Dallas wins and Lakers losses from being eliminated from playoff contention. Their wnidow is too narrow. There's good momentum headed into next year, and then there's the long-term health of the player they invested most of their money in this year.
Bryant described his progress as "slow" at All-Star Weekend.