2:09pm: The league’s insurance policy will provide the Lakers with $4.75MM in compensation for Bryant’s absence, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bryant is making more than $30.45MM, and the full amount still applies to the team’s cap and luxury tax bill.
1:36pm: The Lakers have officially ruled Bryant out for the year, tweets Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. The team also issued a statement announcing the news. Bryant wanted to come back this season, but the team convinced him that sitting out would help his recovery, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
10:48am: Kobe Bryant will remain out for the balance of the season, a source tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The news has been anticipated, and Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding wrote Tuesday that the Lakers would make a formal announcement sometime this week. USA Today’s Sam Amick wrote overnight that Bryant was not expected to return. The Lakers still haven’t confirmed Bryant’s status, but it appears they’ll be without their star guard for the last month of 2013/14.
Bryant has played just six games for the Lakers this year after signing a two-year, $48.5MM extension in November. He returned in December from a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg, but went down again soon thereafter with a tibial plateau fracture in the same leg. His latest malady was only supposed to keep him out for six weeks, but it’s apparently cost him the balance of the season instead.
The Lakers have little to play for at 22-42, in a four-way tie for the fourth-worst record in the league. They probably stand to benefit from Bryant’s continued absence, since every loss helps the team’s draft lottery chances. Lakers management has long shown a strong commitment to Bryant, but the decision to grant him the extension looks even shakier now than it did when the deal was struck. The Rob Pelinka client was set to hit free agency this summer, and a season lost almost in its entirety to injury would certainly have depressed his market value.