The Los Angeles Lakers not only expect Kobe Bryant to be back by the start of the regular season but believe he could also be back by the preseason.

Lakers vice president Jim Buss told NBA TV on Thursday that Bryant is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in April. Buss expects Bryant to play in a preseason game.

"Well, we're in Vegas and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason," Buss said during the Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks game at the Las Vegas Summer League. "He's real sharp in taking care of himself and he's not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He's going to come back when he's right. He's a machine. He's inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can't believe how much he's progressed so far."

Bryant previously had said that he was ahead of schedule and would begin getting more active in his rehabilitation next month heading into training camp, which begins in October. The initial timetable for his recovery was six-to-nine months and six months would have Bryant back sometime during training camp.

When Bryant does come back, he will be returning to a Lakers team without Dwight Howard, after the Lakers' pursuit of their All-Star center fell short when he decided to sign with the Houston Rockets.