In 2010-11, Phil Jackson cut back Kobe Bryant’s minutes by five a game over the previous year. Coincidentally, Kobe Bryant’s PER jumped from 21.9 to 23.9.
Last season, rookie coach Mike Brown leaned heavily on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, with Kobe’s minutes jumping back up to 2011 levels — he was fourth in the league in minutes per game at 38.4. Kobe’s PER returned to 21.9. (Gasol played the second most total minutes of any player in the league, behind only Kevin Durant.)
But this summer Kobe Bryant did not return to Germany for the blood-spinning procedure he has promoted in the past. Playing (and winning gold) in the London Olympics as well as other commitments didn’t leave time.
Which has Brown saying he plans to keep Kobe’s minutes down this year. He swears. Here is what official team Lakers reporter Mike Trudell tweeted:
Mike Brown definitely wants to reduce Kobe’s minutes this year. Acknowledges they were too high last year, feels team is now deeper.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 2, 2012
Brown needs to treat the regular season like Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers do — sacrifice games in the short term if you need to so players get rest. What matters with an older team — and this means Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and others as well — is being rested and healthy when the playoffs start. A top seed is nice, but a number two seed with a healthy, rested team is better.
Brown is saying the right things, but we’ll see if he does them.