GM: Lakers will contend with Kobe

"You guys don't have the sense that we do because I'm in the building every day watching," Kupchak said. "He has not played in an NBA game. We don't have that sense. We have [anecdotal evidence of] historically what players have done with this injury. We've consulted with the physicians, the doctors in terms of reinjury and stuff like that. The bottom line is that everybody expects him to get back on the court and to have a complete recovery. I don't think anybody does not expect that.

"The gray area, obviously, is at 35 years old, how is his game going to change? We think it is going to change a little bit. He's acknowledged that it will. But I don't think that there's any doubt that he'll play in this league at a high level. I don't know if that means points or exactly what it means. That was our comfort level."

Bryant, who enjoyed a renaissance season last year with averages of 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and finishing fifth in MVP voting, still has some steps to complete before making his 2013-14 season debut, according to Kupchak.

"I don't think he's contemplating, nor do I think he's ready to play right now," Kupchak said. "I'm not saying that a week or two down the road he might not be, but I think even if he did play, there's a period where the game at that level ... is really quick and fast-moving, and you can't just sit out 7-8 months and hop back into a game."

After the team's shootaround Tuesday in advance of its game against the Washington Wizards, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said he does not "foresee" Bryant playing in any of the games on the three-game trip through Washington, Brooklyn and Detroit.

Whenever Bryant does play again, Kupchak said the 15-time All-Star and five-time champion will still undoubtedly be an impact player.

"I do expect him to have an influence on the game," the GM said. "He will be able to score, provide leadership and toughness to our team. Confidence. We've had some stretches where we've really played well, but I've seen some times where you could use somebody that's got great experience that maybe you could go to at certain times of a game, whether it's at the end of a period or end of a game.

"And then it's going to be a feeling-out process. But he will be back and he will play at a high level."

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