Pierce accepts smaller role, questions if Kobe can

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Paul Pierce is not going to see heavy minutes with the Clippers — he may even come off the bench behind Wesley Johnson (I think that’s a terrible idea, but that’s a different topic for another day). He’ll play some three and some four, but at age 38 when the season starts, what he’s going to do most is rest. The premise is simple, what matters is a healthy Pierce when the Clippers enter the playoffs.

Pierce said again he’s good with that on the Fred Roggin Show on the Beast 980 in Los Angeles — and then took a little shot at Kobe Bryant.

If your audio player isn’t working, here’s the quote:

“That will be tough on some guys in L.A. to take on that role *cough* Kobe *cough* I mean, you know, but um, we get older.”

Kobe is willing to play fewer minutes; he understands that at age 37 coming off a few major injuries he’s got to take care of himself. Byron Scott threw himself on the sword for overplaying Kobe last season, but the dynamic between Kobe and Lakers’ coaches means he deserves some of this blame too. But that’s beside the point.

Pierce is joking about something plenty of people around the NBA are wondering:

Can Kobe accept a smaller role? To take the ball out of his hands for stretches so D'Angelo Russell can learn through mistakes? To let the offense run through Jordan Clarkson? Can he be a real mentor to the next generation of Lakers?

Expect the superior Clippers team to take a lot of shots at the Lakers this season. They are the better team, and they are going to make sure everyone in LA knows it.