Kobe Bryant missed Thursday's practice because of what the Lakers described as soreness in his left foot.
The Lakers refused to call Bryant's absence a setback. They instead characterized Bryant's decision to miss the Lakers' third consecutive day of practice as his ongoing effort to ensure he doesn't experience any additional strain on his left Achilles tendon. Bryant later was seen walking to his car outside of the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo without any limp.
It's safe to pencil Bryant out when the Lakers (5-7) host the Golden State Warriors (8-4) today at Staples Center. It appears unlikely he will return when the Lakers play Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, too.
"I don't think we should be surprised about anything," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's a process. You'd be surprised if he was going to play. We know he wasn't going to play. There might be days he'll have to take off and days he'll ramp it up."
D'Antoni then quipped, "I'm not a doctor, although I studied chemistry some."
D'Antoni also described Bryant as a "little tired" during Wednesday's practice after completing two consecutive days of full-court five-on-five scrimmages seven months after shattering his left Achilles tendon. Bryant started practicing last Saturday, beginning with half-court five-on-zero drills involving strategy and shooting. But Bryant said Tuesday he still felt limited with his explosiveness, which affected his jumping and lateral movement.
Bryant had gone through a similar process earlier in his rehab.
Shortly after beginning running and shooting drills last month during the Lakers' preseason trip to China, Bryant reduced his activity and returned to a weight-bearing treadmill. The Lakers described that decision as a tapering process, and Bryant said he followed that procedure to build more flexibility in his left Achilles tendon.
"I'm not concerned at all," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. "If he's not going to play tomorrow or the next couple of games, I think it's good for him to get some good practices in and take a step off to see how the Achilles reacts. Let it calm down and then pick it back up."
Former NBA players' union executive director Billy Hunter accused Bryant and agent Rob Pelinka of acting on behalf of former union president Derek Fisher to end the 2011 lockout, according to a Los Angeles Superior Court filing on Thursday.
In the filing that also is part of an early termination lawsuit, Hunter stated Bryant and Pelinka called him the night before he was scheduled to meet with NBA officials in October, 2011 urging him to accept a 50-50 split of basketball-related income.
"Bryant told me to agree to the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) at a 50-50 share of BRI, saying, 'I know that tomorrow is a big day. You can put this thing to bed. Do the deal,' and also telling me, 'I got your back,' " Hunter said in the filing. "What Bryant and Pelinka were telling me is that a 50-50 deal had already been completed behind my back."
Hunter said in the court filing that Fisher, Bryant's former teammate, denied secretly negotiating with the owners. Hunter also wroter Fisher indicated Bryant and Pelinka had secret negotiations with NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver. Both sides eventually agreed to a near 50-50 split.
Bryant didn't speak to reporters on Thursday. Pelinka and Fisher's business manager, Jamie Wior, did not return calls for comment.
Persistent nerve issues in his back will keep Steve Nash out for at least five more games, providing more uncertainty on whether the Lakers' 39-year-old point guard can overcome an injury that already has sidelined him for nearly two weeks.
Nash will continue rehabbing with his personal trainer Rick Celebrini in Los Angeles this weekend. Nash then will train in Vancouver during the Lakers' upcoming trip to Washington (Nov. 26), Brooklyn (Nov. 27) and Detroit (Nov. 29) ... Lakers backup Chris Kaman missed Thursday's practice because of back soreness. He's listed as day-to-day.