Kobe Bryant Out For Nine Months After Shoulder Surgery

Kobe Bryant’s NBA season ended on Wednesday after he had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that will sideline him for nine months.

The five-time NBA champion, who injured his shoulder last week in a loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans, underwent a procedure lasting two hours, the LA Lakers said in a statement.

“I expect Kobe to make a full recovery and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season,” Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery, said.

Bryant was averaging 22.3 points in 35 games this season for a struggling Lakers team that is last in the Pacific Division with a 12-34 record.

The 36-year-old guard, who earned his 17th All-Star selection last week, had sat out eight of the Lakers’ previous 16 games for “rest” reasons.

Fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, he played in only six games last season due to knee and Achilles tendon injuries as Los Angeles posted a 27-55 record.

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Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak foresees star guard Kobe Bryant returning from a shoulder injury to play next season.

Bryant had surgery to repair rotator cuff damage on Wednesday. His recovery time is projected at nine months, which would be just before the start of the 2015-16 season.

“I don’t think he’s retiring,” Kupchak said Thursday. “He said he’s looking forward to training camp. That’s what we expect.”

Bryant is making $23.5 million this season and has one year left on his contract at $25 million. The 19-year veteran will turn 37 this summer.

The former league most valuable player, who joined the Lakers as a first-round pick out of high school as an 18-year-old in 1996, is signed through next season after agreeing to a two-year extension in 2013 for $48.5 million.

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