Bryant has been cleared for running and shooting as he returns from a broken bone in his left lateral tibial plateau that caused him to miss all but six games this season. He has been ramping up his activity level the last few weeks and was confident about pushing harder after receiving positive feedback during a consultation last week with the doctors in Germany who previously performed the platelet-rich plasma treatment known as Orthokine on his knees.
Bryant visited the doctors while he was in Europe on a short trip with his family last week, sources said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Bryant left for that European trip a few days before the end of the Lakers' season.
"First of all, I did not know he was leaving town. Second of all, I think it's a bigger story to everybody here than it really is to us," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said of Bryant's trip at exit meetings on Friday. "We had a tough year. Kobe's had a really tough two years. He's had two career-threatening injuries. He's had to live through the season that we had to live through together. This is his 18th year in the NBA. Although I haven't spoken to him in the last day or two, I understand leaving town he is going to see his medical consultant in Europe. So, all things considered, to me, it's not that big of a deal."
Bryant had rarely traveled with the team or appeared in public in the last month, preferring to focus on his rehabilitation instead of a team wrapping up the worst season in Lakers history. He vented his frustrations with the team's struggles when he was declared out for the season in mid-March, and again on Twitter on Wednesday.