Kobe Bryant has been fully cleared to return to all basketball activities, just in time for the Los Angeles Lakers to begin training camp in Hawaii on September 29. Lakers head coach Byron Scott, who played with and mentored Bryant during his rookie season, does not want to see him have a fourth consecutive season ended by injury. Scott faced criticism for his management of Bryant last season, a campaign in which Bryant averaged 34.3 usage rate and played 34.5 minutes per night while shooting a career low 37.3% from the field over 35 games before tearing his rotator cuff on a dunk against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Speaking to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, Scott said that he had spoken with Bryant, who told him he was feeling "fantastic." Scott told Oram that it was among his top priorities to keep the Lakers $25 million investment feeling that way:
"The one thing I want," Scott said, "if this is his last year, I want him to go out standing. I don't want him to go out hurt. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make sure we stick to the game plan, as far as his minutes and as far as back-to-back games."
These are encouraging words from Scott, who obviously cannot treat the Lakers' season like NBA 2K and turn injuries off, but is capable of playing Bryant a sensible level of minutes for a 37-year old and reducing his usage on the court so that he has a better chance to maintain his efficiency. Only time will tell if those things will happen, but with the offseason mercifully nearly at a close we will find out soon enough.