Bryant, 35, has not played since December 17 when he fractured
his knee during a game against Memphis after having missed the first
19 games of the 2013-14 NBA season recovering from a torn Achilles
from last April.
"Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but
I appreciate all the support I've received from the Lakers and the
fans, and look forward to being back and ready for the start of
training camp," Bryant said in a statement.
The sixteen-time All-Star, who has played six games this season, was
examined on Wednesday by the team's physician, who determined that
the injury has still not healed.
The Lakers have sagged to a 22-42 mark after posting a 45-37 record
last season. With 18 games left, the team stands 15-1/2 games out of
the eighth and last playoff berth in the Western Conference.
"With Kobe's injury still not healed, the amount of time he'd need
to rehab and be ready to play, and the amount of time remaining in
the season, we've simply run out of time for him to return," said
Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti.
"However, Kobe will have the entire offseason to heal, rehab and
prepare, and we look forward to him being 100 percent for the start
of next season."
[to top of second column]
Bryant, so dominant a force on the NBA stage that he was still
elected to a place on this season's All-Star game, which he
declined, has averaged 13.8 points and 6.3 assists in his
Bryant, twice the NBA scoring champion and a former NBA most
valuable player, signed a two-year contract extension earlier this
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; editing by Frank Pingue)
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