EL SEGUNDO, Calif.--Kobe Bryant headed to Germany on Thursday for an innovative procedure on his right arthritic knee, according to published reports.
Bryant, 35, will have a procedure called "Orthokine," which entails taking blood from the patient, spinning it in a centrifuge and then injectingsoft tissue-healing platelets back into the affected area.
Because no red blood cells are re-injected, platelet-rich plasma therapy is not considered blood doping. Recovery from the procedure usually takes weeks, not months.
This is the second time Bryant will have had the procedure done on a chronically bad knee. The Lakers aging star traveled to Germany in 2011, where he had the treatment performed on his right knee and ankle and it seemed to rejuvenate his career. The balky knee limited him during the 2010-11 season, prompting him to seek out the innovative procedure. He boosted his scoring average by more than two points a game the following season and stayed on the court longer.
"It worked out well (last time)," Pau Gasol said. "He was a new man (with) a brand new knee. It felt a lot better, which I guess is why he is going back for another boost."
The Lakers were mum on details Thursday, saying only that Bryant would be back in town next week.
"I don't know much about it," Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "(But) it's not a surprise. ... He knew he had time because he wasn't getting on the court yet, so it's not a big deal. I don't think it caught anybody by surprise. Instead of doing it in August, he's doing it now."
While the knee has bothered Bryant off and on in recent years, his Achilles' tendon remains the larger issue.
Bryant suffered a torn left Achilles' tendon April 12 in the final minutes of a regular-season game against Golden State and originally was expected to be out 6-9 months. But his comeback has been faster than anticipated.
He has been documenting his rehabilitation on social media and at one point this summer said he had "shattered" the timetable for recovery from such an injury. And at media day last Saturday, Bryant declared that he was "feeling good" but needed to get into playing shape.
"It doesn't take me too long to do that," he said. "I really work hard at it and when I get back out there on the court, I'll be good to go. I don't think I've ever really played a season where I'm 100 percent, so, 78 (percent) is fine."
Bryant had been in the gym occasionally during the summer and joined the team on the court Wednesday, where he took some set shots and did light jogging, giving the Lakers optimism for a quicker-than-expected return. Making it back for the Oct. 29 season opener against the Clippers seems unlikely and the team doesn't have a timetable for his return.
"His presence is always helpful," Gasol said. "He keeps guys locked in. When he's been here, he works very hard. Guys see that, they perceive that and it carries over to the team.
"But if he has to do this (PRP) procedure again it's because he needs it and he does whatever is best for him and for the team. You have to respect it."
Guard Nick Young suffered a sprained ankle and is not expected to play in Saturday's preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors at Citizen's Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
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