Kobe Bryant could make his long-awaited return to action for the LA Lakers this Friday having been on the sidelines for nine months after suffering a serious Achilles injury.
The 35-year-old has not played since he ruptured his Achilles tendon against Golden State Warriors in April, meaning Bryant has missed 18 games this season alone.
Bryant has been able to step up his recovery in recent weeks, receiving medical clearance to play from Lakers medical staff, but the NBA legend has yet to be risked by coach Mike D'Antoni.
He was ruled out of the weekend game with the Portland Trail Blazers, which the Lakers lost 114-108, but Bryant could finally pull on the Lakers jersey once again for the meeting with the Sacramento Kings this week.
"I don't want to anticipate anything," D'Antoni told reporters. "Those are days that he can work and see, re-evaluate how he feels after the three days and then make a decision going forward.
"That doesn't mean he will play Friday, doesn't mean he won't. But that's the time you just evaluate, and I can't tell you what type of evaluation that will be."
Bryant's long-term injury resulted in some uncertainty about his future with the Lakers, given that his current contract expires at the end of the season, but the franchise awarded the veteran a two-year extension last week.
The deal will see Bryant earn $48.5 million over its duration, and means he remains the highest paid player in the NBA.