LA Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak will not rush back Kobe Bryant and admits the NBA superstar hasn't starting basketball work yet as he continues to recover from injury.
Bryant suffered a torn achilles tendon last season and underwent surgery in mid-April. The exact date of his return has been subject to intense speculation in California.
But Kupchak insists he will not rush him back onto the court, despite the departure of Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets.
"I do believe that he'll get back and he'll play this season," Kupchak told USA Today.
"You won't be able to look at him and say, 'He was hurt.' In other words, some guys - like myself, when I hurt my knee, I always had a limp.
"You won't be able to tell (with Bryant). He'll get back on the court. He'll be healthy."
Bryant, 35, was expected by some sections of the media to miss the entire 2013-14 campaign but he's been making "steady progress" through the summer - although he's not returned to the practice court for basketball work yet.
"I've looked out my window (above the practice courts) now for three months, and he has not been on the basketball court one day," Kupchak continued.
The Lakers get their preseason underway with a trip to China for two warm-up games against the Golden State Warriors in mid-October. As a result, the organisation will have its first training camp practice this weekend as preparation.
They finished as the seventh seed in the Western Conference last season, but with Bryant out injured and Howard now a Rocket, the Lakers are not expected to challenge next season.