The news comes as the Lakers are firmly situated in the cellar of the Western Conference with a record of 22-42 through March 11. Because of that status as one of the league's worst teams, Bryant has no reason to rush back after missing all but six games this season.
Los Angeles awarded Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million extension in November, and the Lakers legend will turn 36 years-old in August. He'll still be expected to serve as the centerpiece of a future roster with several holes.
General manager Mitch Kupchak has made it clear he expects Bryant to play at a high level when Bryant returns next season and he will be a focal point of the team moving forward.
What will complicate matters is the fact that the 2014 free agent crop won't be as deep as the 2015 group. The Lakers will presumably have plenty of cap space to sign talent over the upcoming offseason, but a better class of available players will be in play the following year, the final season of Bryant's current contract and potentially his career.
The silver lining is that Kupchak and the front office will have the final 18 games of the season to evaluate more talent among their current roster.
In six games, the perennial All-Star averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds.