The news just seems to get worse and worse for the Los Angeles Lakers this year. The Lakers, who are going through their worst season in the last six decades, announced, on March 12, that Kobe Bryant will not return to the floor this season as his injured left knee has not healed.
“With Kobe’s injury still not healed, the amount of time he’d need to rehab and be ready to play, and the amount of time remaining in the season, we’ve simply run out of time for him to return,” said Athletic Trainer Gary Vitti.
Bryant has been sidelined since Dec. 17 with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. He also missed the Lakers' first 19 games while recovering from a torn Achilles in his left leg suffered last season.
“Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the support I’ve received from the Lakers and the fans, and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp,” said Bryant.
Bryant averaged just 13.8 points a game and shot 42.5 from the field, both of which is his lowest since his rookie season in 1996-97. He also shot a career-low 18.8 percent from beyond the arc and had a career-high 5.7 turnovers a game.
Los Angeles (22-42) has used 19 players this season and are tied for the worst record in the Western Conference. The Lakers are averaging 102.0 points a game – 12th best in the NBA – but are 29th in the Association in defense surrendering 107.9 points a game.
No player has played all 64 games for Los Angeles this season – Wesley Johnson has played the most games (63). Steve Nash (54), Chris Kaman (30), Jordan Farmer (28), Xavier Henry (28), Nick Young (15) Pau Gasol (10) and Jodie Meeks (six) have all missed games this season.
Los Angeles signed Bryant to a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension in November. Bryant is making over $30 million this season.
With Bryant’s extension kicking in next season, the Lakers will have five players and $38.3 million on the books next season. However, Bryant and Nash (9.7 million) and Robert Sacre(2-year-$1.8 million) are the only players with guaranteed contracts.
Nick Young has an early termination option at $1.2 million and Kendall Marshall’s contract is not guaranteed ($915,00). Also, Ryan Kelly and Kent Bazemore are restricted free agents following the season.