For the first time since suffering a lower-leg contusion against Sacramento in preseason two weeks ago, Kobe Bryant spoke with the media to give an in-person update on his status heading into Wednesday’s season opener against Minnesota.
“The injury’s been slowly getting better,” Bryant said at Tuesday’s practice. “The past couple of days I’ve been able to move a lot more (and) do some of the things I feel comfortable doing.”
Bryant practiced fully on Tuesday after participating in roughly three-fourths of the previous day’s session. Head coach Byron Scott does not anticipate putting him on an injury-related minutes restriction when he hits the floor for the first time this year.
“The past couple of days he’s looked pretty good,” Scott said. “The only thing I was really worried about was conditioning. But (at) the last couple days of him getting up and down, he looks more fluid. I’m gonna just play him like I would normally play him.”
Scott says Bryant will play on Wednesday, barring unforeseen obstacles. Bryant missed the Lakers’ final three exhibitions due to his ailment.
Despite also suffering season-ending injuries to his Achilles tendon, knee and rotator cuff in the last three consecutive seasons, Bryant is not discouraged by the time missed in preseason.
“The reality is that injuries happen to everybody,” Bryant said. “You have to continue to look at it from a macro level and a macro perspective. You look around the league and there are a lot of players that have gotten injured.
“I’ve gotten injured pretty much every training camp since I’ve been in the league. I don’t try to put too much emphasis on it. Just try to stick to the program.”
Part of the plan to reduce Bryant’s workload this season has been to distribute the majority of ballhandling responsibilities to guards D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, thus allowing the five-time champion to play fewer physically demanding off-ball minutes.
“My role has changed a lot in terms of the style of play,” Bryant said. “I can count on one hand the amount of screen-and-rolls that I’ve run. It’s a drastic difference than in the past, with D’Angelo and Jordan handling the ball.”