NBA: Kobe Bryant skips practice after training twice with Lakers team-mates

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Kobe Bryant sat out Los Angeles Lakers' practice yesterday but coach Mike D'Antoni said it was just a normal step in his return from Achilles tendon surgery.

"I don't think we should be surprised about anything," he noted of Bryant's decision to skip practice after training twice this week with team-mates.

Until Saturday, he had not trained on court with the Lakers in more than seven months since rupturing his left Achilles tendon in April.

The NBA superstar's return to practice sparked speculation that he could return to competition before the end of the month - something Bryant said was possible.

But D'Antoni said he never expected the player's progress to be completely smooth.

"It's a process," D'Antoni said. "There might be days he'll have to take off and days he'll ramp it up."

Bryant's team practice sessions this week included full-court and half-court contact drills.

Team-mate Pau Gasol said he was not worried that some soreness prompted Bryant to rest.

"I think it's good for him to get some good practices in and take a step off, and let's see how the Achilles reacts and let it calm down and then pick it back up," Gasol said.