As the Lakers continue to lose, the question shifts to Kobe Bryant and whether a return this season is even worth it. Bryant is still recovering from his injury and has repeatedly stated that he does want to play again this year.
But that’s Kobe’s opinion. Kobe is never going to back away from competition. He’s the same guy who wanted to play 48 minutes every game last season during the final stretch for the playoffs. In other words, Kobe’s decisions aren’t the most logical ones.
Resting Kobe means the Lakers could have their $50 million man return healthy next year for a new campaign. Why risk another injury during a meaningless season?
The Lakers have now lost 18 of their last 21 games and are just a half game ahead of the Sacramento Kings for dead last in the Western Conference. Though they have looked good in some of those losses offensively, their defense continues to be horrific. They have allowed triple digits in 14 consecutive games. Whether one blames the offensive-minded Mike D’Antoni or the injuries — it doesn’t matter because Kobe isn’t going to help bring that number down. Defense is a collective effort and just because Bryant will be hustling and playing defense it doesn’t mean the rest of the team will.
On this shorthanded team, there’s a good chance Kobe may try to do too much and put himself at risk for another injury. If he gets hurt once more, that’ll be three times in a 12-month span and that’s something nobody wants to see.
The Lakers have invested plenty of money in Kobe Bryant over the next two years. They saw what can happen already when they rush to bring him back. It would be wise to do what’s best for the team’s future and rest him. The positives outweigh the negatives heavily.
Regarding the players that are actually on the floor and playing for the Lakers, there are two guys who have continuously produced over the last month: Pau Gasol and Kendall Marshall.
Gasol seems to be realizing that he’s going to be looking for a new contract at the end of the year and he’s playing like a guy who’s going to be pursuing big money. In January, Gasol averaged 20.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.7 blocks. He’s been playing actively on both ends of the floor.
Meanwhile, Marshall looks like a player who may actually stick with the squad come next year. He recorded his eight and ninth double-doubles this week and is continuing to show that he could be an effective point guard in the NBA.
Speaking of point guards, the Lakers got good news this week as Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake, and Steve Nash all practiced. It’ll be interesting to see what Marshall’s role will be when all three of their point guards return to the court. But for now, he’s enjoying his starting minutes.
The Lakers brief home stand ended and they’ll head back on the road this week. They’ll do a back-to-back in Minnesota and Cleveland before finishing off the week in Philadelphia.