The main topic of discussion surrounding Kobe Bryant over the last few weeks has been whether the Los Angeles Lakers will shut him down for the season. Bryant already missed six games this season for rest and will sit out one of the two games in back-to-back scenarios.
Head coach Byron Scott has openly admitted to playing Bryant too many minutes in the first half of the season. Bryant is averaging 34.7 minutes per game right now, but Scott wants to restrict him to 32 minutes from here on out.
After Lakers practice on Wednesday, Scott talked to the media about the prospect of shutting down Kobe for the season. Scott said it is possible Kobe could be put on the shelf if the team isn’t in playoff contender in two months time, via Mike Bresnahan of Los Angeles Times:
Chances of Kobe shut down this season? Byron: "If we're nowhere near playoff contention in March…then we might discuss that."
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 14, 2015
Before the game against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, Scott downplayed the prospect of shutting down Kobe for the season. Scott let it be known that there’s been no talk of ending Bryant’s season prematurely, but it appears it could happen depending on the circumstances in March.
With the Lakers continuing to struggle and currently way out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, it seems highly unlikely they’ll be back in the hunt come March. Unless a blockbuster trade is made or the team drastically turns things around, the Lakers will almost certainly be in the same position in two months time.
That being said, Kobe being shutting down for the year could be a realistic possibility. Anything can happen between now and when the decision could be made in March, but Bryant could be headed for another early end to an NBA season.[divide]
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