At All-Star weekend in New Orleans, Kobe Bryant called his recovery from a knee fracture “a slow process.”
That process has suffered another setback.
Lakers’ doctors examined Kobe on Friday and he continues to have soreness and swelling, so he will be re-evaluated in three weeks, according to the Orange County Register. Until then, no workouts, just more stationary bike (that Kobe admits he’s sick of).
With just 27 games left in the Lakers season it becomes hard to see how Kobe comes back to play before the April 16 end of the season. At the most optimistic end of the spectrum Kobe could be cleared to start working out again in mid-March, and after a few weeks of that he would be able to return for the final handful of games in what has been a disastrous Lakers season. That optimistic scenario has him back for 10 or fewer games at the end of a meaningless season. A season where the Lakers are better off losing and getting a higher draft pick anyway.
Kobe and the Lakers can do the math, they know the situation. Kobe hinted at this speaking to the media in New Orleans, saying he normally didn’t play much pick-up ball in the summer and just focused on his own thing, but that this summer would be different. Why? Presumably because he wouldn’t get in any games this season and there is no substitute for game action.
Kobe has played in just six games this season, missing the first weeks of the season recovering from his torn Achilles suffered at the end of last season. Then less than two full weeks into his comeback, he fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. That has been slow to heal.
All the Lakers will say is that they are not going to rush him back. All Kobe will do is say what he said in New Orleans, that he has to “do what I have to do” and will keep grinding to get back. Of course he will, that’s who he is.
But at this point the math and situation becomes overwhelming and Kobe will have to admit he will not be back until next season. We all realize it. It’s just not time for Kobe to admit it publicly yet.
Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.
There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.
Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.
Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.
The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.
Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.
More than fine.
Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.
Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):
The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.
Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.
Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.
The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?
Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:
If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.
The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.
It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.