Kobe Bryant officially out for season opener, but is 'ahead of schedule'

Kevin Lee

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant is "ahead of schedule" according to head coach Mike D'Antoni, but it sounds like he will not be ready to return for a while.

It should be no surprise that Kobe Bryant will miss the start of the regular season. The Los Angeles Lakers' star shooting guard tore his Achilles on April 12 and was given a "six to nine months" recovery period at the time. After the Lakers beat the Utah Jazz in their final preseason game on Friday, head coach Mike D'Antoni was asked if there was a chance Bryant could be ready for Tuesday's tilt with the Los Angeles Clippers, via ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin:

"No," D'Antoni said after the Lakers' 111-106 preseason win over the Utah Jazz on Friday to finish out their exhibition schedule 4-4. "My God, I know he's Superman, but my God. He hasn't run yet."

Lakers Nation caught D'Antoni's answer on video:

As McMenamin explained, there is no clear timeline for Bryant's return. He has done some shooting and he has been more than diligent with his rehab, but he's not close to practicing with his teammates yet.

Bryant said earlier this week that the nature of the Achilles injury would prevent him from coming back before it was fully healed, as opposed to the myriad bumps, bruises, tears, strains, fractures and sprains he has played through in the past.

"It's a little different in the sense that, injuries to your lower extremities can always lead to something else," Bryant said. "So, it's not about being 100 percent necessarily, but it's about making sure that you're running with the proper gait and you're not putting stress on other areas that can then cause problems down the road."

D'Antoni said before Friday's game that Bryant was still "ahead of schedule," for what it's worth.

The 35-year-old Bryant is in the last year of his contract with the Lakers. According to Los Angeles executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, negotiations have begun on a contract extension.

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