On the morning after Los Angeles Lakers president and governor Jeanie Buss sat down with Bill Macdonald for an interview on Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet to address a variety of issues, Kobe Bryant joined Dan Patrick’s radio show to discuss his knee injury and Phil Jackson’s departure for New York.
Before getting on the subject of Jackson joining the Knicks, Bryant told Patrick he would be playing if the Lakers were in a better position:
Kobe Bryant said that if the Lakers were contending, he could play right now.
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) March 19, 2014
Bryant’s notion that he would be pushing through the injury aligns with what he’s done countless times throughout his career. He often recovered from injury ahead of schedule and in some instances, didn’t miss any action despite a prognosis predicting that he would. After recovering from Achilles surgery, Bryant played in just six games before he suffered a knee fracture that ultimately led to the Los Angeles Lakers declaring him out for the remainder of the season.
The Lakers have been officially eliminated from the playoffs and will continue to give their young players an opportunity to essentially audition as the team continues to position themselves, intentionally or not, for a high pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. By not returning this season, Bryant will have the opportunity to fully recover from the lingering issues associated with his knee fracture and enter the first season of a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension with a clean bill of health.
How the team will be constructed when Bryant returns, remains to be seen. They have several players on the current roster who will be free agents come summer, namely Pau Gasol, and face plenty of uncertainty moving forward. Bryant stated he wouldn’t have the patience to endure another losing season, so it will be interesting to see how the front office responds.