Kobe Bryant Return Update: LA Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak Does Not Expect Superstar To Return In Next Two Weeks
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak played down reports suggesting that Kobe Bryant is set to return soon, saying that the superstar guard will not make his comeback in the next two weeks.
Bryant, who tore his Achilles in the final stretch of the 2012-13 NBA regular season, has been undergoing intense conditioning recently, but Kupchak pointed out that the 35-year-old veteran needs to practice and be on the court before considering his return.
"I don't see that in the next week or two because you've got to be on the court. You've got to practice. You've got to play," Kupchak said in a statement as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The Lakers are struggling to find their identity without Bryant, losing in five of their first eight games of the season. Kupchak said that he is expecting Bryant to return stronger and his comeback will give them a clear picture of what the current Lakers squad is all about.
"Clearly we don't know what this team is all about until Kobe gets back, and when he gets back, how is he going to play?" Kupchak said. "I know he's going to come back competitive. I know he's going to be productive. But that's when we're going to find out what kind of team we have."
Aside from Bryant, Kupchak is also pinning his hopes on veteran point guard Steve Nash. The 40-year-old veteran is also expected to be on the sidelines in the next two weeks, but Kupchak is still hoping that Nash will give them the production that will make the Lakers competitive once Bryant returns.
"If we can get Steve Nash to give us a total of 25 to 28 minutes a game, if he can get us out of the block, set up the offense, organize and get us off to a good start in the first and second half -- maybe finish a game. I'm happy with that," Kupchak said.
Nash, who is averaging 6.9 points and 4.8 assists this season, sat out in the second night of their first two back-to-back games this season as part of the Lakers' precautionary measures.