|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown said Wednesday night that Kobe Bryant's foot injury might not be healed enough to play in Tuesday night's season opener against the Dallas Mavericks.
"I don't know if he'll be ready," Brown said after the Lakers' 97-91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. "So yeah, I guess there is question. I'm just going to wait for [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti to tell me he can play, because there's nothing I can do about it until they release him anyway."
Bryant sat out of Wednesday's game and already has been ruled out of Thursday's exhibition finale in San Diego against the Sacramento Kings. According to a team spokesman, Bryant spent most of Wednesday's game getting treatment on his foot in the training room and did not come out to the Lakers' bench during the game.
Bryant's injury is classified as a strain, and the team is officially saying he is out indefinitely. However, Bryant reported some improvement in his foot to team officials before Wednesday's shootaround.
A 17-year veteran, Bryant missed several practices earlier in training camp because of discomfort in the same right foot. However, sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Wednesday night that this injury is in a different place on his right foot and is considerably more painful.
Bryant was injured this time when he tripped over Thomas Robinson's foot in the third quarter of Sunday's 99-92 loss to the Kings.
Bryant told reporters Tuesday that he was experiencing a lot of pain from the injury and doubted he would play in Wednesday's game, even if it was a regular-season contest.
Lakers center Dwight Howard also sat out of Wednesday's game after feeling sore on Monday and Tuesday following his first game action in six months as he returns from back surgery. Brown said he will "probably" play on Thursday night. Jordan Hill, sidelined since the first game of the preseason with a herniated disk, scored 12 points in 26 minutes in his return to the court.
Bryant's injury means that the Lakers' new-look starting five with him, Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace will have played just one game together in the preseason. Jodie Meeks started in Bryant's place on Wednesday.
"Obviously it would have been great if they would have had more on-court time against a different colored jersey," Brown said. "But, again, I'm a long-term guy and not a short-term guy, so, they'll be ready when it counts."
The Lakers are 0-7 in the preseason, their worst preseason start in franchise history.