Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant will have surgery Wednesday to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, the team announced Monday. The Lakers have yet to announce a projected timetable for Bryant’s recovery, but head Coach Byron Scott acknowledged the 36-year-old will likely miss the rest of the 2014-15 NBA season.
“Kobe is probably not going to play. … We all know how tough he is,” Scott said, according to the Associated Press. “He’s a trooper, so we pray for him that his return will be sooner rather than later.”
Bryant injured the shoulder Jan. 21 during a third-quarter dunk against the New Orleans Pelicans. He grabbed his shoulder as soon as the play ended and was forced to exit the game. A subsequent MRI revealed a torn rotator cuff that required surgery to repair properly.
If Bryant fails to return to the court this season, he will have suffered season-ending injuries in each of the last three seasons. Bryant missed the end of the 2012-13 season with a torn Achilles tendon and appeared in just six games last season due to a broken bone in his knee.
Bryant bounced back this season to average 22.3 points per game in 35 contests, but the Lakers have struggled en route to a 12-33 record. He is slated to earn $25 million next season, but his deteriorating health and the franchise’s recent poor performance led to speculation that he may soon consider retirement.
Sources close to Bryant said Monday he plans to rehab his injured shoulder and return to play next season, the Los Angeles Times reported. Scott echoed that sentiment while speaking with reporters Monday.
“I don’t see Kobe as the kind of guy that wants to leave his legacy on these terms,” Scott said. “I think he wants to go out on his own terms.”
Scott added he had “no idea” how the Lakers would make up for Bryant’s absence on the court and has yet to name a replacement in the starting lineup, ESPN reports.