Kobe Bryant unlikely to play Wednesday, Howard questionable

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Aside from learning what Pau Gasol is currently reading (The Tao of Pooh), Tuesday was all about injuries for the Lakers.

The news ran the gamut from excellent to worrisome. Unfortunately, the worrisome part happens to be about Kobe Bryant.

As it was Monday, as the Lakers held practice this afternoon Bryant was sidelined because of a strained right foot, and while the team called his status for Wednesday's preseason tilt against the Clippers "day-to-day," when asked whether he would suit up, Bryant's reply was pretty clear.

"Probably not."

And if it was a regular-season game?

"Probably not."

Which could very well mean he sits in Thursday's preseason finale as well. More on this in a moment, but first the rest of the injury rundown:

  • For reasons described as "precautionary," Dwight Howard was a limited participant, and will be a gametime decision Wednesday. Coach Mike Brown says they'll evaluate him after shootaround and go from there, but fair to say the Lakers will continue giving Howard the kid-glove treatment, particularly while still in the fake-game season.

  • Jordan Hill, who hasn't played since the first preseason game and has been rehabbing a herniated disc in his back over the last couple of weeks, went full speed and could be in the lineup Wednesday.

  • Metta World Peace again practiced, with the middle finger he dislocated in the second half Sunday night wrapped heavily in blue tape. He'll play Wednesday, and said he won't require any special support for the injured digit. As he put it, "Splints are for chumps."

  • Steve Nash, who had his ankle stepped on Sunday, is fine.

So again, the news isn't all bad. Nobody seemed all that worried about Howard, whose maladies seemed more of the "guy who hadn't played a game in six months" variety than anything serious. But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little bit of concern creeping in regarding Bryant. A couple of weeks ago, he said he was as healthy as he has been in years. Now, not so much. And it's not just the injury, but the location. A player of Kobe's skill and resourcefulness can work around an elbows, shoulders, or (as we've seen) even mangled fingers.

Feet offer fewer workarounds. Moreover, they are by definition foundational, and when something messes with an athlete's foundation other problems often pop up, be it in the knees, hips, back, or wherever. Not saying with a few days of rest he won't be fine, but if asked to come up with a malady not including the words "torn," "broken," or "ruptured" giving me a feeling of, as Phil Jackson often put it, "dis-ease," a foot problem would be right up there. It's the sort of thing with the potential to nag.

That the Lakers need a healthy Kobe is self-evident, and at this point in his career, Kobe understands the need to take time for his body when it is required, and the upgrade in talent this offseason gives him more flexibility to rest. He'll do so as long as required. In the meantime, this sort of thing hampers attempts to build continuity in the preseason and makes the hair on the back of many a Laker fan's neck stand up.