The Lakers awaited news on Kobe Bryant’s status Friday afternoon, completing their shootaround without a definitive answer on the severity of the torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Bryant was scheduled to consult with team doctors in Los Angeles after the tear was revealed Thursday by an MRI exam in San Antonio. He was injured while dunking in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game against New Orleans.
“Yeah, I’m worried,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said Friday. “I think we all are in the organization.”
If the tear is a complete one, Bryant will almost surely opt for season-ending surgery. If it is partial, he could conceivably play if the pain isn’t too intense, though he might need to sit out a couple of weeks while the inflammation decreases.
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.
Bryant 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,” he wrote on Twitter, adding thanks for the thoughts and prayers from well-wishers.
Said Scott: “Good, he didn’t blame it on coach playing him too much.”
Scott didn’t shut the door on Bryant returning this season if it is only a partial tear.
“If there’s a chance that he can play, he’ll play. Then I think it comes down to us trying to figure out if he should or not,” Scott said. “But we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves right now.”
If it is a full tear, Scott predicted a successful return for Bryant after surgery and rehabilitation.
Bryant, 36, is making $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, with a lowly .250 winning percentage. They have an almost equal 28.6% success rate with him (10-25).
If Bryant is done for the season, Nick Young presumably becomes the Lakers’ most capable scorer, though he is shooting only 31.5% this month.
Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan