Report: Kobe first injured shoulder during preseason, has been playing through it all year

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An MRI revealed that Kobe Bryant has suffered a torn rotator cuff injury to his right shoulder, and while the severity of the injury is not yet known, it’s certainly something that could cause him to be shut down for the remainder of the season.

As it turns out, this is not a new injury; Bryant first suffered it during the preseason, and has been playing through it all year. But he aggravated it somewhat severely in Wednesday night’s loss in New Orleans.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:

Kobe first injured this shoulder in the preseason, according to sources. Has been playing w/ it all year. It just got worse last night

And from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

On Kobe Bryant, there’s “concern” within Lakers this could be season-ending, source says. But nothing definitive until docs examine him.

There have been rumblings that the Lakers may choose to shut down Bryant at some point during this lost season, and this injury, even if it’s only a partial tear, would provide more than enough of a legitimate reason to do so.

L.A. has zero chance of getting anywhere near the playoffs, and with Bryant under contract for one additional season, it may be worth saving him in case the Lakers are able to convince one or more impactful free agents to come to Los Angeles this summer.

If Bryant does miss significant time, it’ll open the door for someone more deserving to make the All-Star team out West. The guard position is extremely deep with guys like James Harden, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook and Klay Thompson all seemingly in need of a spot, but one would likely have been left out had Bryant been healthy enough to appear. Assuming the injury now forces him out of action, there should be room for everyone who has a legitimate case to make it to the midseason exhibition in NYC.