Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has been officially ruled out of contention for at least another three weeks, with ESPN.com reporting that an examination by team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo produced some disappointing news.
Bryant's injury-ravaged campaign has not dampened the 35-year-old's desire to play again this season, despite being sidelined since mid-December with a fractured left knee.
That drive to return before next year could be in vain though, with coach Mike D'Antoni admitting that he is increasingly unsure over Bryant's ability to regain full fitness before a disappointing campaign come to a close.
D'Antoni told ESPN: "I don't know. That's out of my hands.
"We'll see. I have no answer to that one."
The five-time NBA champion's long-term future in LA is at least secure though, with Bryant signing a two-year contract extension last November worth a whopping $48.5m.
Since returning from the All-Star break the Lakers have produced a mixed bag of results, with defeats to Brooklyn and Houston coming either side of victory over the Boston Celtics.
With playoff aspirations long gone D'Antoni's flagging side now face a fight to avoid finishing bottom of the Western Conference, with the Lakers currently half-a-game adrift of the Utah Jazz in last place.