At 9-8, the Lakers aren't in dire need for the recovering Kobe Bryant since they're clearly holding it together. They do need Bryant in a "It would be cool if we have our future Hall of Fame captain back" sort of way, however. Bryant has been taking part in practice, and it looks like the next step—actually playing in a game—is coming soon. As soon as Friday perhaps.

The Lakers have a decent break between tonight's match against the Trail Blazers and Friday's game against the Sacramento. This gives the Lakers nearly a week's worth of practice and Bryant some time to test himself. If he's up for it, we could see a Black Mamba return at Sacramento. That's a big if, according to Mike D'Antoni: "I don't want to anticipate anything. 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."

If Bryant returns on Friday, that's obviously good news for the NBA and a big accomplishment for him. But will it be big enough to warrant a DeMarcus Cousins handshake? We shall see.

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[via ESPN]