Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant wanted to continue his attempt to play again season, but was convinced by the team it would be better for his health if he not return, league source told Yahoo Sports.
Bleacher Report first reported Bryant will not return this season because the fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee has been slow to heal. The Lakers said Bryant was examined by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo on Wednesday.
"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," Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti said in a statement released by the team. "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."
Bryant has not played since Dec. 17. If the Lakers (22-42) still had hopes of reaching the Western Conference playoffs, Bryant would have more greatly resisted the decision to sit out the final month of the season, a source said.
The Lakers are tied with the Sacramento Kings and the Boston Celtics for the fifth-worst record in the NBA. Their odds of landing a high draft pick in the June NBA draft increase with the lower they finish in the standings.
"A lot of people have been pressuring him not to come to back. He is the only one that wants to come back," one source close to Bryant said. "They want him to relax, not take chances."
Bryant averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds in six games after returning from an Achilles tendon injury that ended his 2012-13 season last April. He said during the All-Star weekend that his recovery has been a "slow process."
Bryant is expected to cautiously return to basketball activities this offseason.
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