Kobe Bryant is officially done for the season after having surgery to repair his torn right rotator cuff Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Lakers also made it official that their superstar doesn’t believe his career is finished.
Bryant is expected to need nine months to recover from his third straight season-ending injury. If Bryant meets that timetable, he could return to basketball shortly before the start of the 2015-16 season — and the Lakers expect to see him in purple and gold again.
Neal ElAttrache and Steve Lombardo performed the two-hour surgery at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
“I expect Kobe to make a full recovery, and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season,” ElAttrache said in a statement provided by the Lakers.
The Lakers formally declared Bryant out for the season by acknowledging the expected recovery time for his injury but also effectively confirmed he won’t retire and will attempt to play his 20th season in the fall. Bryant, who will be 37 years old this summer, is the NBA’s highest-paid player at $23.5 million this season, and he is under contract for $25 million next year.
“In my mind right now, he’s coming back next year, unless he tells me something different,” coach Byron Scott said at practice Wednesday.
Of Bryant’s impending rehabilitation, Scott added, “It’s pretty painful from what I’ve heard, and the rehab is long.”
“But I think the biggest thing with Kobe, as long as [the media are] saying that he’s done, he’s going to come back,” Scott said. “I think he proved his point this year that he still has a lot left in the tank. He’s still one of the best players in the league.”
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