Former Laker Darius Morris: Injured Kobe Bryant has a lot left in tank

Ex-Laker Darius Morris says if Kobe Bryant wants to come back from rotator cuff injury, 'He will'

Kobe Bryant's season may be over as he's evaluated by doctors in Los Angeles on Friday following a rotator cuff injury.

Visiting the Clippers on Thursday night with the Brooklyn Nets, guard Darius Morris said his thoughts are with his former teammate.

"I hope that it's just a minor one," said Morris, of Bryant's rotator cuff tear. "It's really unfortunate when that happens."

Morris spent two seasons with the Lakers, as the team's 41st overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

The 24-year old guard said he expects Bryant to return strong from the injury, whether it's this season or next.

"He's been playing at a really high level, for however many years he's been in the league. That dude is mentally tough, man, so if he wants to come back and play he will," said Morris. "Mentally he's so much more advanced than players who are playing today."

Bryant helped to mentor Morris, who has since moved on to play with the Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, Clippers and Nets.

"He took me under his wing. That's like my brother, my big bro," said Morris. "Once I earned his respect, he was nothing but a great teammate for me."

The Nets have struggled this season, falling to eighth in the Eastern Conference with an 18-25 record. Morris has made 19 appearances this season, averaging 3.3 points and 1.3 assists.

Morris was with the Lakers when Bryant tore his Achilles' tendon in 2013, eventually replacing the All-Star in the starting lineup as the Lakers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs.

"He literally carried us and propelled us to the playoffs that year, when we were fighting for the eighth spot," said Morris. The Lakers eventually finished in seventh place at 45-37.

"I witnessed some great moments with that guy. He's definitely one of the best ever to pick up a ball," he continued. "At his age, the way he was dunking on people and leading fourth-quarter comebacks." 

Bryant is heading into the final year of his contract, but missed all but six games last season and may be done after 35 this year, depending on the severity of the injury.

A full tear could mean surgery and roughly four to six months of recovery. If the rotator cuff is only slightly damaged, Bryant may be able to return in a matter of weeks or even days.

Morris has nothing but affection for his former mentor.

"I hope he can end his career on his terms," he said. "Even if he's lacking physically, I feel like he can be useful out there, maybe more as a facilitator, picking apart the defense.

"You can't stop his fadeaway. He still gets to the free throw line. He's still better than most on an old leg." 

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