LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kobe Bryant's NBA season effectively ended on Wednesday after he had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that will sideline him for nine months, the Los Angeles Lakers said.
The five-time National Basketball Association champion, who injured his shoulder last week in a loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans, underwent a procedure lasting two hours, the team said in a statement.
"I expect Kobe to make a full recovery and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season," Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery, said.
Bryant was averaging 22.3 points in 35 games this season for a struggling Lakers team that is last in the Pacific Division with a 12-34 record.
The 36-year-old guard, who earned his 17th All-Star selection last week, had sat out eight of the Lakers' previous 16 games for "rest" reasons.
Fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list, he played in only six games last season due to knee and Achilles tendon injuries as Los Angeles posted a 27-55 record.
The former league most valuable player, who joined the Lakers as a first-round pick out of high school as an 18-year-old in 1996, is signed through next season after agreeing to a two-year extension in 2013 for $48.5 million.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Scottsdale, Arizona; Editing by Gene Cherry