Kobe Bryant to miss Lakers' opener

Updated: October 26, 2013, 4:58 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant's return date from Achilles surgery is still up in the air, but it will not be the Los Angeles Lakers' regular-season opener Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, according to coach Mike D'Antoni.

"No," D'Antoni said after the Lakers' 111-106 preseason win over the Utah Jazz on Friday to finish out their exhibition schedule 4-4. "My God, I know he's Superman, but my God. He hasn't run yet."

The news should come as little surprise after Bryant told reporters earlier in the week that he has "scaled back" his workouts since the Lakers returned from their trip to China. Earlier this month, Bryant provided a glimpse into what he had planned for the final stages of his rehab, telling reporters he would need three weeks of "rigorous conditioning" after returning to practice before he would be ready to play in a game.

Bryant has not come close to practicing with the team yet. His basketball activity has been limited to spot shooting during training camp, and even that has been more of the set-shot than jump-shot variety.

The Lakers have yet to update the official recovery timeline of six to nine months for the 18-year veteran after Bryant suffered the Achilles tear April 12 of last season against the Golden State Warriors.

L.A. started Steve Blake at shooting guard in Bryant's place for the second consecutive game, and Blake responded with 19 points on 7-for-7 shooting. D'Antoni said a starting lineup of Blake, Steve Nash, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol -- which the Lakers used in their consecutive wins against Utah to close the preseason -- was a "definite possibility" for the Clippers game.

Bryant said earlier this week that the nature of the Achilles injury would prevent him from coming back before it was fully healed, as opposed to the myriad bumps, bruises, tears, strains, fractures and sprains he has played through in the past.

"It's a little different in the sense that, injuries to your lower extremities can always lead to something else," Bryant said. "So, it's not about being 100 percent necessarily, but it's about making sure that you're running with the proper gait and you're not putting stress on other areas that can then cause problems down the road."

D'Antoni said before Friday's game that Bryant was still "ahead of schedule," for what it's worth.

"He's making progress and he'll be back as soon as he can," D'Antoni said. "No use worrying about it. You only worry about it when people don't work hard or are not doing what they're supposed to be doing. That's not a problem."

Outside of Bryant's status, the Lakers got a little more roster clarity Friday by waiving forward Marcus Landry to bring the team down to 15 players, the league maximum. Landry appeared in six preseason games, averaging 4.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game, but did not play in either of L.A.'s final two exhibition contests.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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