It’s Time for LA Lakers, Byron Scott to Play Kobe Bryant off the Bench

LOS ANGELES — Overshadowing the sometimes stumbling, sometimes steady development of D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, and a defense that deserves no single-word explanation other than "wow" to encapsulate how terrible it's been, a crumbling Kobe Bryant is so far the most noteworthy theme of this Los Angeles Lakers season.

Questions about the 37-year-old's surreal load whiz past head coach Byron Scott's face every day like immortal mosquitoes. But he bats them away as if nothing's wrong and nobody should ponder why the Lakers still prioritize Bryant's wishes above all else, regardless of his negative on-court effect or what all this early-season exertion is doing to his body.

In what's more than likely the final season of a truly illustrious career, Bryant's minutes, in a vacuum, are not without precedent. According to, there have been 12 other players, spread throughout 19 seasons, who at the age of 37 (or older) averaged at least 31 minutes per game.

Bryant was barely over that benchmark before he only played 25 minutes in a 34-point loss against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, which pushed him down to a 30.5 minutes-per-game average. But contextually, that's beside the point; all this is nonsensical. The Lakers have young players to develop and long-term expectations to worry about. Bryant's tendency to stop the ball and hoist hasty attempts early in the shot clock is damaging the team's present-day and immediate future.

The minutes should concern everyone involved, but they don't appear all that much of a worry to the only person whose opinion really matters: Scott, Kobe's coach, who let the longtime franchise cornerstone dangle for 37 minutes in an 11-point loss to the Toronto Raptors last week.

"I know the minutes, that was big for him tonight," Scott said after that game. "But, again, I'm not worried about it. I just let him out t...

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