Kobe Bryant appeared in just six games for the Lakers last season, after briefly returning from an Achilles injury suffered the previous year, before then fracturing a bone in his knee that sidelined him for the rest of the games on the schedule.
Bryant seems fully ready to return, and James Harden vouched for just how good he’s looked this summer. But new Lakers head coach Byron Scott is going to attempt to take a cautious approach to just how hard he works Bryant, both in training camp as well as once the long grind of the regular season begins.
(via Basketball Insiders):
Now you’ve known Kobe Bryant since he was a teenager, since he first got to the league. You were on the first team he played on with the Lakers. When it comes to Kobe Bryant, he’s been in the league a long time, a lot of miles on those wheels. How are you going to get him to relax? To just sit down once in a while?
Yeah, Kobe’s his own man. We know how hard he works, we know how driven he is. But I think he’s at the point too where he’s so much more mature, and he understands that he only has a few more miles left on that body, you know, maybe two, maybe three years. And I think he’s probably more acceptable to accept the fact that you can’t practice every day. There might be some games where you can’t play this game or that game. But that’s all to be determined. We have to sit down before training camp and go over some things because I can’t have him going twice a day in training camp. That’s what the young guys are supposed to do. He’s been here long enough and understands his game better than anybody here, what it takes to win. I got to use that knowledge that he has as well. I’m going to treat him like he’s an assistant coach as well as a player.
This all sounds good, in theory. It’ll be interesting to see just how much juice Scott has in Bryant’s eyes, and whether or not it’s enough to truly manage Kobe’s playing time once things get started.
Many blamed Kobe’s Achilles injury to Mike D’Antoni’s inability to control Bryant in terms of the minutes he was playing. And in that game in particular, Bryant had a couple of awkward falls before the injury occurred, and it seemed as though something was off with him physically for much of that contest.
Bryant played more than 47 minutes in three of the six games before his final one in 2013, and played all 48 on the second night of a back-to-back the game prior to suffering the injury. Putting that type of unnecessary strain on his body is suicidal at this stage of his career, and Scott knows it. But we’ll wait and see if he’s able to convince Bryant to dial it back when the season begins.