With the Los Angeles Lakers at the halfway point of the season (games-wise), and standing 11.5 games out of a playoff spot after Friday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz, it has become apparent that the team will not be making the post-season this year.
Though not mathematically eliminated, it would take a ridiculous second-half of the season for the Lakers to even sniff a playoff berth. With that being the case, the question of what to do with Kobe Bryant has now become a major subject for the team.
Kobe has missed half of the Lakers last 14 games and Byron Scott has admitted to overplaying him early in the season. Bryant plans on playing his 20th season next year, but even he knows he can’t physically do what he used to.
As most know, the Lakers keep their first-round pick only if it lands in the top-5 and talk of ‘tanking’ has been going on nearly all season. All of that begs the question, what exactly should the Lakers do with Kobe Bryant?
We asked our panel of experts if the Lakers should shut down Kobe Bryant for the rest of the season. This is what they had to say:
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): I’ve already made my thoughts on this subject well-known, but in short, the Lakers should not shut down Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant being on the floor does not prevent the Lakers from taking a look at the younger players on the roster. Additionally, if these players are going to stick around, they will have to play with Kobe next season, so why not get used to it now?
The rest of this season can be used to figure out exactly what physical limits Kobe has at this stage in his career. Mapping out a minutes plan and figuring out exactly how best to utilize Kobe is better to do now than at the beginning of a new season.
More than anything else, if Kobe is shut down, he won’t be around the team as much, which will rob those young players of the chance to practice with, and learn from one of the best players of all-time. It just isn’t worth it to sit him out.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): With half the season in the books, the Los Angeles Lakers should know where they are, not just in the standings, but as a basketball team. The team has gone through a training camp, preseason, and just over forty games and find themselves on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
There have been two different versions of the Lakers this season. In the games where Kobe Bryant has sat out, the Lakers have looked like a different team with much more ball movement.
For the remaining players, the adjustment could get difficult moving forward with Bryant’s game availabilities uncertain and regulated on a day-by-day basis. Each night, it’s going to be a big question which Laker team will show up.
Still, the Lakers have been competitive despite their losing record and have shown they play well enough in the games Bryant doesn’t suit up. Given that the playoffs would be hard to reach with the West being as tough as it is, there isn’t much for the Lakers to play for except for pride.
Instead of pushing Bryant and seeing what he has left in the tank, the team should re-focus on developing their younger players, namely Jordan Clarkson. Bryant should get his rest as the Lakers retool.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): I don’t think they should shut down Kobe for the season. They might as well let him keep this rhythm of resting every few games.
Kobe’s on-court presence may not necessarily help the team earn more wins this year, but at the very minimum he will provide some entertainment value for fans.
It doesn’t exactly hurt the Lakers long-term if they have a terrible season and end up keeping their first round pick (which is top-5 protected). The organization will actually be better off in the long-run if they can keep their pick this year.
The only reason the Lakers should consider shutting down Kobe is if he has a major injury. At this point there’s no reason to save Kobe for the future, since next season will likely be his last.
It’s sad that it’s slowly coming to an end, but I’m happy to enjoy watching him play while he’s still healthy. Let this season and the next be Kobe’s swan song.
We probably won’t see another player with his playing style for a long time – his breed doesn’t fit into the advanced analytics, modern-era NBA. Isolation plays that result in contested mid-range jumpers are quickly being replaced by corner threes. So let us enjoy Kobe while we can!
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): No. I don’t think shutting Kobe Bryant down for the season is a good idea.
Basically, if the Lakers are leaning toward shutting down Kobe for the year or even entertaining the idea, the superstar should retire. I don’t see a benefit to putting Bryant on the shelf at this point.
The argument that is being made is to save him for what will likely be his farewell season. I don’t see the logic in that move. Bryant should try to get his body right and continue playing this season.
He’s getting paid $23.5 million this season and should earn every penny by entertaining the fans that have supported him for the last 18 years. Lakers fans pay good money to watch Kobe do his thing on the basketball floor.
Bryant might not be the same player of old, but these fans don’t pay to watch players like Wesley Johnson or Wayne Ellington. They pay their hard earned money to watch one of the greatest players of all-time.[divide]
Lakers Kobe Bryant Discusses Future Possibility Of Being Shutdown