Bryant made his return to Lakers practice on Saturday and, according to teammates, went harder than expected. Still, even with him able to participate in five-on-five scrimmages and practice with contact starting Tuesday, we shouldn't expect to see him in game action right away:
Even with full clearance, though, Bryant is not expected to jump right back into game action Friday night against Golden State or even the next week of Thanksgiving. Bryant wants to test his ankle joint and see how it responds, which he will get to on an initial basis with full-scale team practices set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
After his ankle joint was immobilized for so long since April 13 surgery, Bryant knows he needs to push through all the natural stiffness and regain full range of motion in the ankle. That stuff-and the "black-out" training to regain his conditioning-is separate from the healing of the actual tendon, which has been accomplished without any stretching of it, the most common fear during recovery.
Ding speculates that Dec. 6 on the road against the Sacramento Kings might make sense as a return date because the team is off for a few days beforehand. Bryant and the Lakers have not spoken publicly about a timetable, unless you count Bryant telling a radio station months ago that he hoped to return by November or December.
Without Bryant, Los Angeles is 5-7 on the season. The Lakers have no games until Friday against the Warriors, so their star should be able to get a few good practices in this week.