Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Sunday he does not anticipate Kobe Bryant returning from his Achilles’ tendon injury within the next two weeks.
“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, speaking at a morning event for season-ticket holders at Staples Center, said of the team’s All-Star guard.
Bryant said recently that he’s gotten in two of the three weeks of intense conditioning he needs before considering a return date.
The Lakers undoubtedly will work Bryant slowly back into practice before he sees his first NBA game action since tearing his Achilles’ tendon in April.
“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.”
Kupchak also gave credit to Commissioner David Stern, who is retiring in February, for globalizing the NBA game, though Kupchak couldn’t resist one verbal jab.
“He’s done so much for this [league with] his vision,” Kupchak said. “…We’ll miss him, with the exception of one moment.”
Kupchak was referring to Stern’s scuttling of the Lakers’ trade for Chris Paul in December 2011, at a time when the New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans) were without an owner and being operated by the league.
“Have you forgiven him for that one moment?” asked Lakers broadcaster Stu Lantz, moderating the event.
“No I haven’t,” Kupchak answered.
Kupchak also said the Lakers wanted to get “25 to 28 minutes” a game out of veteran point guard Steve Nash, who was averaging 24.2 minutes before Sunday’s game against Minnesota. Coach Mike D’Antoni has rested Nash on the second night of back-to-back situations, an arrangement Kupchak said may not hold up all season.
“That’s not something that’s etched in stone,” Kupchak said. “I think that can change.”
Lost in a haze?
Carrying bags and buying candy for teammates hasn’t bothered Lakers forward Elias Harris, who shrugged it off as a rookie rite of passage.
But some teams are already cracking down on even mild hazing in the wake of harassment allegations against Miami Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito.
Timberwolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad said team President Chris Wright and GM Milt Newton informed players they no longer wanted rookies wearing child-themed backpacks. Muhammad had been issued a Jonas Brothers backpack to wear on trips.
“They actually said they don’t want us carrying them, but I understand with the stuff going on with the football thing,” said Muhammad, who entered the draft after one season at UCLA. “They want to be separate from that… Now I think rookie hazing won’t exist anymore.”