Los Angeles Lakers vice president Jim Buss told NBA TV on Thursday that he not only expects Kobe Bryant to be back by the start of the regular season but also believes he could play in a preseason game.
“Well, we’re in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason,” Buss said during the Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks game at the Las Vegas Summer League. “He’s real sharp in taking care of himself and he’s not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He’s going to come back when he’s right. He’s a machine. He’s inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can’t believe how much he’s progressed so far.”
Bryant said earlier this month that he feels confident that he can play another three years.
“I know I’ll be healthy and I’ll be ready to go this year – I know what I can bring. And I think I can easily do that for another three years,” he said.
When Bryant does return, the Lakers will be without Dwight Howard, who decided to sign with the Houston Rockets. Buss said Howard’s decision will not set the Lakers back for long.
“When we traded for him, we basically knew we were renting him for a year,” Buss said. “We were prepared. [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] and I, we had quite a few meetings. If he leaves, this is what’s going to happen, this is what we’re going to do, and if he stays, this is what’s going to happen, this is what we’re going to do. It’s not like I didn’t want him to stay, but we were very prepared, so it wasn’t a shock to our system or the Lakers’ fans or the Lakers’ organization that if he left, he would put us in a bad spot. We were OK either way, because we prepared for it.”
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