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Kobe Bryant is out six weeks with fracture in the left knee

Dec 19, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

This is a punch to the gut. For the Lakers. And For Kobe Bryant.

Kobe will be out six weeks with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, the Lakers announced. That is the basically the flat part of the top of the shin where it connects to the bottom of the knee. It apparently does not need surgery.

Kobe had been back just six games following Achilles surgery on his left leg earlier this year.

This would mean a return likely around early February, maybe a little later (Kobe needs to give the bone time to heal then get his conditioning back up to get on the court).

The injury occurred against the Memphis Grizzlies, likely on a play where there was contact with Tony Allen as they fought for position (there was not any intent to injure, it should be noted). Immediately Kobe was grabbing his knee and clearly in pain after the play but he stayed in the game. Because he’s Kobe.

This is the same leg where he had his Achilles surgery. As so often happens in sports, especially with older athletes, an injury in one area leads to compensation and eventually issues in another area. It’s not that he came back too early, it just the way the body compensates for injuries.

In the short term this leaves the Lakers without a real point guard — Kobe joins Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar all out with injuries. Farmar is the closest to return, he will be re-evaluated Dec. 24 and could potentially return Christmas Day against the Heat.

Long-term, the Lakers have to consider if they want to shed some talent — hello Pau Gasol — and essentially look at the lottery for this season. Without Kobe for another 20 plus games the Lakers are going to slip out of playoff contention in the West. That said, any moves the Lakers make would not impact their cap space the next two summers — they want the ability to be active in the free agent market.

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