Kobe, 36, on return: 'That's the plan'

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant addressed his expectations a day after shoulder surgery Thursday night in a brief interview with ESPN, saying he planned on being ready to play come September for the Los Angeles Lakers' training camp.

"Yeah, that's the plan," he said.

Bryant said his rehab over the next couple of months will involve "a lot of patience."

"Sore, but it's OK," Bryant said of his shoulder.

He said media opinion on whether he should return for a 20th season or retire wouldn't affect his decision.

"I don't really listen much to what people have to say, to be honest with you," Bryant said.

Bryant was back at the Staples Center for a brief visit with former teammate Pau Gasol before the Lakers faced the Chicago Bulls.

The former teammates spoke privately before Bryant left. Bryant said he wasn't feeling well enough, 31 hours after the operation, to go on the court.

Gasol later received a standing ovation from fans before the Lakers' 123-118 double-overtime win as a video tribute played on the big screens at Staples Center.

Bryant is expected to need nine months to recover from his third straight season-ending injury, a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder suffered last week that he had surgically repaired Wednesday.

If Bryant meets that timetable, he could return to basketball shortly before the start of the 2015-16 season, the final year of his contract with the Lakers.

Bryant, who will be 37 this summer, is the NBA's highest-paid player at $23.5 million this season. He is under contract for $25 million next year.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had said earlier in the day he fully expects Bryant to play next season, and also shot down the notion that Bryant's heavy minutes load earlier in the season -- he played a team-high 35.4 minutes per game through the team's first 27 games -- led to his injury.

"I don't think that had anything to do with anything, [and] certainly not the injury," Kupchak said.

Information from ESPN producer Joy Benedict and ESPN.com's Baxter Holmes was used in this report.