Kobe Bryant skips practice Thursday
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant did not practice Thursday, missing the Los Angeles Lakers' first team session since returning to basketball activities last weekend after seven months off following Achilles surgery.
Coach Mike D'Antoni would not call Bryant's decision to use Thursday for treatment a "setback," characterizing it more as a reminder of the process the 35-year-old still must go through before making the leap from practices to suiting up for a game.
"He had a hard two days and just took the day off, and he'll either ramp it up [Friday] or the next day," D'Antoni said.
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Bryant was experiencing "a little bit of soreness" in his left foot, according to a team spokesman, and D'Antoni stressed that rest is necessary for the 18-year veteran along the comeback trail.
"I think it's just precautionary," D'Antoni said. "I know everybody is eager, but it's going to be a little bit of a process and [we will] make sure he is healthy when he comes back."
D'Antoni said that Bryant is unlikely to play Friday against the Golden State Warriors. Sunday's game against the Sacramento Kings is also a "doubtful" debut date for Bryant, according to a league source.
Bryant regressed some in his on-court performance Wednesday after playing for the second straight day, according to D'Antoni.
"It's just like training camp," D'Antoni said. "By the third day, it's tough. And that's what he's kind of going through right now."
Pau Gasol also shrugged off Bryant's decision to sit out.
"Not concerned at all," Gasol said. "I don't know when he's going to play, but if he's not going to play the next couple games, I think it's good for him to get a couple good practices in, take a step off, let's see how that Achilles reacts. Let it calm down, maybe. And then, pick it back up."
D'Antoni was reluctant to map out a return timeline for Bryant. Speaking on Wednesday at the team's annual "All-Access" event hosted by the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission, D'Antoni said, "If he's not too sore and if he keeps playing, [Bryant will return to game action in] a couple more weeks, three weeks."
In other words, there are still steps to be taken.
"Just when he's ready, he'll know it," D'Antoni said. "The trainer will know it by looking at him and I'll know it by looking at him. So, I think it's all three of us [sitting] down and trying to figure out when it's the best. We can map it out on the calendar, but you don't know. You go day to day and you figure out where he is today and where he'll be tomorrow, and at some point it looks good and I think everybody will agree and we'll do it.
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"We'll just have to hold our horses a little bit and get him back when he's ready to go."
Meanwhile, the Lakers' other Hall-of-Fame-bound guard, Steve Nash, has a bit of a cloudy future in terms of figuring out when he will be ready to return from the nerve root irritation that has held him out of the lineup since Nov. 10.
"He's still in the process of working out and getting back," D'Antoni said. "He's not here yet."
Backup center Chris Kaman also did not practice Thursday because of back soreness. He is considered day to day.
Nash plans to travel to Vancouver next week with his personal trainer, Rick Celebrini, to undergo rehab on his back and hamstrings while the Lakers are on a three-game trip to Washington, Brooklyn and Detroit.
"Conditioning and trying to get over the nerve pain," D'Antoni said of Nash's progress. "He's got to get his body aligned. It will probably be another week or 10 days and then he'll try [to return]. If it works, it works. If not, he'll go back [to training] to try it again."