Lakers shut down Bryant for rest of season

El Segundo, CA ( - Kobe Bryant will not return for the Los Angeles Lakers' final 18 games of the 2013-14 season as he continues his recovery from an injury to his left knee.

The Lakers made the announcement on Wednesday following Bryant's examination with team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo, who determined that the 16-time All- Star's knee had not sufficiently healed from a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau sustained back in December.

"With Kobe's injury still not healed, the amount of time he'd need to rehab and be ready to play, and the amount of time remaining in the season, we've simply run out of time for him to return," said Lakers athletic director Gary Vitti. "However, Kobe will have the entire offseason to heal, rehab and prepare, and we look forward to him being 100 percent for the start of next season."

Bryant has appeared in only six games this season, having missed nearly the first six weeks of the campaign while battling back from last April's torn Achilles tendon. He returned to the court on Dec. 8, but was diagnosed with his current injury less than two weeks later.

The 35-year-old averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds prior to being sidelined.