As the Los Angeles Lakers enter the offseason, Kobe Bryant appears to be progressing well in his recovery program as he stated he is completely healed from his knee injury, according to Fox Sports West.
“I’m 100 percent,” said Bryant in an interview on Brazilian television. “This summer I’m training really hard. The organization is working really hard to make sure we have a great team. It’s the best time when people count you out.”
After making his return to the court just eight months following Achilles surgery, Bryant was able to play in just six games in December before suffering a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee. He was initially slated to miss the next six to eight weeks, but persistent swelling and soreness kept him from making any significant progress in his recovery. This coupled with the fact that the Lakers’ lack of consistent success led to him being shut down for the remainder of the season.
Last November, Bryant agreed to a two year, $48.5 million deal with the Lakers, who this offseason will have just two other players in Steve Nash and Robert Sacre under contract heading into next season. The team also holds a team option on Kendall Marshall, and Nick Young is expected opt out of his deal and test the free agent market next month.
“It was a very, very tough season but what’s life without a few challenges?” asked Bryant. We only have three players from last year’s team signed to contracts right now, including me. We don’t have a coach. It’s literally like starting from scratch,” he continued. “It’s not really what we have to do better than we did last year, since we have to build the right team to win.”
Along with the task of filling the roster, Los Angeles must also find the franchise’s next head coach with Mike D’Antoni stepping down from the position on March 30. The team has already interviewed likes of Mike Dunleavy, Byron Scott (twice), Lionel Hollins, Alvin Gentry, Kurt Rambis and held an informal phone call discussing the job with George Karl.
Bryant expects the head coach search to be a long process as the next head coach will hold much responsibility getting the team back into relevancy quickly with the seventh overall pick in this year’ draft, and the 18-year veteran under contract for just the next two seasons.
“That’s a very, very tough call to make because unfortunately there are very few great coaches left,” said Bryant. “It’s a very, very short list. We’re really going to take our time to pick the right person.”
As the Lakers continue to look for the team’s next head coach, the news that Bryant is progressing well in his recovery is certainly an encouraging sign heading into the offseason.
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