Predicting the Second Half for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers

Where do we go from here?

The first half of the NBA season has been anything but kind to the Los Angeles Lakers and, with a lottery pick all but guaranteed, a look ahead to the remainder of the season presents more questions than it does answers.

The Lakers, at 12-30, hold the league’s fourth-worst record and are firmly on pace for a second consecutive losing season. This will mark only the second time a Los Angeles Lakers team has compiled back-to-back losing season and, with rumors about Kobe Bryant’s looming retirement swirling, the future of this storied franchise leaves much to be discussed.

Last weekend, Bryant admitted to entertaining the idea of retiring after this season and foregoing the final year of his two-year, $48 million contract. “I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t crossed my mind,” he told Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke, although he maintained that such a scenario isn’t likely. “Right now I doubt it…but anything’s possible.”

This revelation came only days after reports that both Bryant and coach Byron Scott would mutually consider shutting down the 19-year veteran sometime in March if the Lakers are not near playoff contention by then. Since the Lakers will be nowhere near playoff contention by then, playing without Bryant for the final month of the season may be a distinct possibility.

So what are the Lakers to do? If they shut down Bryant, who has already missed eight contests as part of a broader attempt to limit his fatigue, the Lakers will surely continue to struggle against even the lowliest of competitors and are almost guaranteed to finish among the league’s bottom five.

Although the Lakers have seen spurts of improvement during Bryant’s absences, especially on the offensive end where the ball has seemed to move more crisply and get a more players involved as a result, it is absurd to t...

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