The Lakers are preparing for the worst-case scenario of Kobe Bryant missing the rest of this season because of a torn rotator cuff, according to person familiar with the situation.
“It doesn't look good,” the person said in a brief interview Friday morning. An official decision, however, will wait until at least Monday.
On Friday, Bryant saw team doctor Steve Lombardo in Los Angeles and the physician reiterated that the Lakers star had a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, the Lakers said. It was decided that Bryant should get another opinion on Monday from celebrated sports-medicine specialist Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, the team said.
“Yeah, I'm worried, acknowledged Lakers Coach Byron Scott at the team's shootaround Friday. “I think we all are in the organization.”
If Bryant is sidelined, it would mark the third consecutive time he couldn’t finish a season. He was felled by a torn Achilles’ tendon in April 2013 and a broken bone in his knee last season.
This time, the book would close on him after he played only 35 games with averages of 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists, as well as unsightly 37.2% shooting accuracy.
Bryant played 37.1 minutes a game in November before becoming a part-time player last month, sitting out eight of the last 16 games so he could rest. He was also limited to 32 minutes a game.
“I don’t know if the wear and tear of playing so many minutes early is a result of what’s happened to him right now,” Scott said. “I thought about that. It made me almost sick. I even apologized to him in a text yesterday. His response was, ‘No, that wasn’t it.’
“He, I guess, tried to make me feel better. You can’t help from a coaching perspective to feel that way a little bit. You’ve got to think about, man, if I wouldn’t have used him so much earlier in the season, maybe this doesn’t happen. But then again, maybe it happens later. I don’t know.”
Bryant complained about a sore shoulder about a month and a half ago, Scott said. He aggravated it on a third-quarter dunk Wednesday against New Orleans, though he seemed to blame passing the ball for his predicament. He had a career-high 17 assists last week against Cleveland.
“This is what happens when I pass too much! #ShoulderShock,” Bryant wrote on Twitter, adding thanks for the thoughts and prayers of well-wishers.
Scott predicted a successful return for Bryant if he has surgery and rehabilitation. Bryant, 36, makes $23.5 million this season and is under contract for $25 million next season.
“I know he doesn’t want to go out this way,” Scott said. “I think he’ll rehab it, if that’s the case. Then we’ll have to wait and see.”
The Lakers are 2-6 without Bryant, a lowly .250 winning percentage, and an almost equal 28.6% success rate with him (10-25).
With the loss of Bryant, Nick Young would presumably become the Lakers’ most capable scorer, though he is shooting only 31.5% this month.
Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan