Will Kobe Bryant be back for the start of next season?
"I think that's a realistic goal for him," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Saturday.
Bryant will be out six to nine months because of a torn left Achilles' tendon, the Lakers said. He was injured with 3:08 left in Friday's game against Golden State.
Bryant told Kupchak to deliver something when they met while Bryant prepared for surgery earlier Saturday.
"Actually, Kobe gave a message for me to pass on to the guys on the team, most of which I can't share with you right here," Kupchak said wryly. "But it was a positive message, as you might imagine, very motivational. His spirits were good, certainly markedly different from [Friday] night. He's proactive in all ways. You wouldn't expect him to wait a week or two [for surgery]. Certainly [Friday] night when I got the phone call that he wanted to do it [Saturday], I wasn't surprised."
Bryant appeared to have been crying before meeting with reporters Friday while using crutches after the Lakers' 118-116 victory.
Kupchak downplayed the prospects of the Lakers using their one-time "amnesty" provision to waive Bryant in July.
"That's not even something that we've discussed," Kupchak said. "That's the furthest thing from our mind right now."