Kobe Bryant had surgery Saturday on his torn Achilles’ tendon, ending his season with two games left in the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff chase.
Lakers trainer Gary Vitti thinks the 34-year-old Bryant will need six to nine months for recovery from the most serious injury of his 17-year NBA career.
‘‘I think that’s a realistic goal for him, based on what he was talking about this morning,’’ said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said at the team’s training complex in El Segundo, Calif., after visiting Bryant at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic.
Bryant completely tore his left Achilles’ tendon late in the Lakers’ 118-116 win over Golden State on Friday night, falling to the hardwood after pushing off his planted foot in an ordinary move toward the hoop. Although he stayed in the game to hit two tying free throws with 3:08 to play, Bryant’s season was over.
Bryant’s foot will be immobilized for about a month to prevent him from stretching out the tendon, followed by a lengthy rehabilitation process. Nobody knows how the injury will affect Bryant’s play, but his decision to have surgery less than 24 hours after getting hurt suggests he’s determined to get back on top swiftly.
‘‘He’s already taken the challenge,’’ Vitti said. ‘‘For us, it’s going to be trying to slow him down.’’
And while it’s far too early to predict exactly when Bryant will be back, the Lakers say they wouldn’t consider parting ways with their franchise player, who will make nearly $30.5 million next year. If the Lakers used the amnesty clause on Bryant in early July, they could save possibly $80 million in luxury taxes.
While the rest of the Lakers prepared for their final two regular-season games in a tumultuous season, Bryant’s injury left many Lakers fans wondering whether the club had done enough to protect Bryant from himself.
The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history has played far more minutes than any other NBA player over 30, including nearly 46 minutes per game in the seven games leading up to Friday night.
Bryant simply doesn’t like to sit out, even when he’s hobbling — as he was Friday night after hyperextending his left knee early in the second half.
While Achilles’ tendon tears can occur in athletes under any level of stress, even first-year coach Mike D’Antoni acknowledged he might have forced Bryant to sit out a bit more if the Lakers weren’t desperate for every victory to stay in playoff position.
Bryant fought back tears in the locker room moments after learning his tendon was torn, and he wrote a lengthy Facebook post about his injury early Saturday morning, saying his ‘‘frustration is unbearable.’’
Clippers 91, Grizzlies 87 — Chris Paul hit a free throw with 18.3 seconds left, and Los Angeles edged host Memphis in a possible preview of a first-round playoff series.
With the win, the Clippers took the season series, 3-1 , for what could be a crucial tiebreaker giving Los Angeles home-court advantage in the postseason even though the teams now are tied at 54-26.
Timberwolves 105, Suns 93 — Ricky Rubio had a career-high 24 points, 10 assists, and 5 steals to lead host Minnesota past Phoenix.
Bobcats 95, Bucks 85 — Kemba Walker had 21 points, Josh McRoberts nearly had a triple-double, and Charlotte handed Milwaukee its ninth straight road loss.