SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Kobe Bryant is working hard to get back on the court and not wasting any time thinking about Dwight Howard.
Bryant said Wednesday his surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon is “progressing faster than anybody expected,” though he won’t start shooting again until next month.
“I could shoot right now, but you just don’t trust that the tendon’s holding yet,” the Lakers’ All-Star guard said. “Typically it’s four months minimum until the tendon’s holding and it’s not going to overstretch.”
Bryant spoke at a brief press conference at the start of his annual youth basketball camp at UC Santa Barbara. He said he will be on the court with the campers and walk through some drills.
"I'm not going to be able to go out there and do too much without the Lakers having a heart attack," he said.
Last week, he joined the Lakers in their meeting with Howard, who eventually chose Houston instead of re-signing in Los Angeles.
Bryant said he doesn't know why Howard left.
"You think once a guy decides to go someplace else I'm going to waste my time trying to figure out why that happened?" Bryant said.
Bryant created a stir shortly after Howard's decision when he stopped following the centre on Twitter.
"It's just me. It's just how I am," Bryant said. "I have a hard time following people that, you know, want to beat us. I have a hard time doing that. Not to say we're not friends, I don't respect him. It's just hard for me to do that."
Bryant and Steve Nash sat in on a meeting with Howard and Lakers executives three days before the centre decided to leave the team. Nash took Howard's rejection harder than he did, Bryant said.
"Steve's like a quintessential teammate. Steve takes that stuff to heart. I didn't really care," Bryant said.
Bryant implied that Howard was not a good fit with the Lakers, who offered a contract worth about $30 million more than Houston.
"Everybody's cut differently," he said. "He has his way of leading that he feels like will be most effective and work for him. Obviously, the way we've gone about it with this organization, the leaders we've had -- myself, Magic (Johnson) and Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) -- we've done it a different way."
Of the Lakers' struggles during the past season, Bryant said, "It was a lot of moving pieces going around, a lot of things that happened."
He repeated a word Nash had used to characterize it.
"Nightmare's a pretty good description," Bryant said of a season that ended with a first-round sweep against San Antonio after his late-season injury.
The Lakers recently agreed to a deal with veteran centre Chris Kaman. Bryant said the team needs "a couple guys with length and the ability to cover ground at the defensive end of the floor."
Asked if he might be writing off the 2013-14 season, looking ahead to next year when the free-agent market and the draft will be more favourable to rebuild the team, Bryant responded sarcastically
"Fold the tent. White-flag it. We have no shot," he said. "Come on, guys. Jeez."