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Thu, 01 Nov 2012 02:30 AM EDT

The present thought in the offseason was that Dwight Howard may be the missing puzzle piece when the curtain came up on the new-look Los Angeles Lakers’ 2012-13 season.

It turns out that Kobe Bryant, not Howard, could be the person that starts out the season sidelined.

Bryant sat out Sunday’s practice, using the time to get treatment on the strained right foot he hurt a full week ago in the team’s exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings.

With the Lakers’ season opener against the Mavericks at Staples Center, Bryant remains out indefinitely, in the opinion of the team, and his availability has started to be called into question by his squad.

“I don’t know, I have my doubts,” said Pau Gasol, Bryant’s longest-tenured colleague on the roster. “I hope we (have him in the lineup). … He hasn’t been able to practice for 6 days. He’s been off that foot for 6 days, and it’s no joke. I don’t remember the last time that he took that many days off exercising. He might do stuff in the weight room and might do stuff without putting weight on the foot, but it is a little bit concerning.” Baseball betting lines

Bryant didn’t speak to reporters, but Howard said the lingering injury had Bryant in a bad mood.

“He hasn’t actually talked about it,” Howard said. “I know he is a little down right now. He seems down because he can’t get out there and practice with us. He’s trying to nurse his foot.”

As planned, Bryant was re- evaluated by team trainer Gary Vitti and the rest of the medical staff over the weekend, including undergoing an MRI, according to Lakers coach Mike Brown. The MRI merely confirmed a strain and contusion of Bryant’s foot, Lakers spokesperson John Black announced.

“We’ll see how he’s (Monday) and what he cannot do or can do out on the floor and then sort of go from there,” Brown related.

Bryant missed one or two practices earlier in training camp because of pain in the same right foot.

However, sources claimed that this injury is in a different place on his right foot and is considerably more painful.

While Bryant has earned a status as a warrior who will play thru anything, including a torn ligament in his left wrist to start last season, it would not be unprecedented if his rehabilitation caused him to miss the season opener. Bryant missed the Lakers’ first 2 games in 2006-07 while getting over knee surgery.

“It’s a medical issue,” Brown asserted. “If Gary says that he can’t play for medically reasons, he won’t play. … He can’t play if the doctors will not release him. I don’t know anybody in any pro sport that would play if the doctors don’t release you. So, that has to happen from our medical staff, and obviously he has to feel that he can go as well, and I have to feel like that as well. But, the grim reality of it is, when the doctors clear him and if he feels like he can go then I’m good with it.”

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