Kobe Bryant could make his much-anticipated return Friday when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Sacramento Kings. Though Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni continued to preach caution, he said Bryant could play if his body responds well to practice this week. The Lakers, who don’t play until Friday, will practice Tuesday through Thursday.
“We’ll see Tuesday and go from there,” D’Antoni said Sunday before the Lakers lost 114-108 to the Portland Trail Blazers. “Three days of practice, then we’ll evaluate him. It might happen; it might not. The only way we will be able to evaluate is to let these three days go by and check him out.”
Bryant hasn’t played since tearing his Achilles last April. Despite that, the Lakers felt confident enough to sign him to a two-year, $48.5-million extension last week. Bryant didn’t speak with the media Sunday night.
If not Friday, Bryant could return when the Lakers host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at Staples Center.
Point guard Steve Nash is also expected to practice with the team Tuesday. Nash has missed the past 10 games due to nerve root irritation in his back.
With Jordan Farmar, one of the team’s most productive players this season, having suffered a moderate hamstring injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss, Nash’s return becomes more urgent.