The Los Angeles Lakers are just a few weeks away from training camp and new head coach Byron Scott is beginning to make his media rounds. Scott recently spoke with A Martinez and Alex Cohen of 89.3 KPCC and outlined how he'll monitor Kobe Bryant's playing time this season by possibly sitting him out of games, and went on to say he'll be treating Bryant like an assistant coach:
I think he's at the point too where he's so much more mature, and he understands that he only has a few more miles left on that body, you know, maybe two, maybe three years. And I think he's probably more acceptable to accept the fact that you can't practice every day. There might be some games where you can't play this game or that game. But that's all to be determined. We have to sit down before training camp and go over some things because I can't have him going twice a day in training camp. That's what the young guys are supposed to do. He's been here long enough and understands his game better than anybody here, what it takes to win. I got to use that knowledge that he has as well. I'm going to treat him like he's an assistant coach as well as a player.
Kobe Bryant has averaged 36.6 minutes per game through his career, and in his last two (mostly) healthy seasons logged in over 38 minutes per game. He's also missed less than 10 games in eight of the last 10 seasons. Monitoring his minutes may help keep some late-career mileage off, but it's unclear how receptive he'll be to sitting out entire games should Scott and the training staff use that as part of their maintenance plan.
Sitting players out of games isn't uncommon, and is one of the ways Gregg Popovich has managed the playing time of his trio of stars in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Treating Kobe like an assistant coach is an interesting thing to say, but not entirely unexpected. Scott's relationship with Kobe has been well-documented, and he's spent time moonlighting as a coach on the sideline from time-to-time. As it stands, Scott has yet to hire the rest of his coaching staff, though Mark Madsen is expected to stay on the Lakers bench, and Igor Kokoskov has emerged as one of Scott's preferred targets.
There's no reason for Scott not to hear Kobe Bryant's thoughts out, and having an open, clear line of communication could be helpful after back-to-back coaching hires went sour for the Lakers. Let's just hope Scott doesn't get a death stare when, and if, he tells Kobe he's sitting out.