Kobe Bryant is 36 years old and has a ton of NBA miles on his body. It has always made sense for the Lakers to be careful with his minutes coming off two serious leg injuries in the last 18 months, and recently, head coach Byron Scott said they were planning to give him some days off in practice.
From ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes:
“I said, that’s expected when you haven’t played that long, you miss that length of time, being a year off,” Scott said, “and then you come back basically with a bang because that adrenaline is flowing.
“Then sooner or later, during the season, it’s going to catch up to you. We’ve just got to rejuvenate and get back there. He will. I think that this week at home, getting a couple days off here and there will definitely help him.”
Bryant himself has been noticing a lack of energy after games, which makes sense given the time off he has had and the heavy load he’s shouldered so far (he’s averaging 35.7 minutes and 24 shot attempts per game this season):
“You try to kind of work your way through it a little bit, but everything’s short,” Bryant said after a 6-for-22 night in a loss against Dallas on Friday. “It’s just one of those 36-year-old [hiccups].”
Including this one, Bryant has two years left on his contract, and it’s unlikely that the Lakers will win a lot of games or bring in much supporting talent in that time. He’s going to have to play a lot of minutes and take a lot of shots. It’s the Lakers’ job to maximize his contributions in that time and preserve his body in the twilight of his career.