Kobe Bryant wants to let young players develop, not take over

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After his shooting onslaught in the Lakers’ season opener, Kobe Bryant played just 22 minutes in Friday night’s loss to the Kings. At 37 and in his 20th year, Bryant isn’t going to be able to handle the workload he has in the past, especially before his last three season-ending knee injuries. For now–and emphasis on for now—he’s fine with that. He says he wants to defer to the Lakers’ young players to let them learn how to handle late-game situations where he otherwise would have taken over.

From ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes:

“Can’t do it,” he said after Friday’s 132-114 loss to the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. “Got to let them develop.”

The “them” Bryant is referring to is the Lakers’ young players: rookie guard D'Angelo Russell, second-year guard Jordan Clarkson and second-year forward Julius Randle.

But Bryant admits it’s not easy to pull back.

“It’s difficult,” Bryant said. “But it has to be done.”

We’ll see how long this lasts. During the 2012-13 season, Bryant had a stretch of several weeks where he radically reinvented his game to be more of a facilitator, but before long, his game reverted back to what it’s always been. Bryant can talk right now about how he wants to let Russell and Clarkson develop, but after a few more weeks of losses, let’s see if he still feels that way.