"Kobe Bryant shouldn't play anymore this year."
It's not uncommon for Charles Barkley to be the guy with the guts to say what everyone's already thinking. And that's exactly what he did on TNT Thursday night.
He went on to explain his opinion after Kenny Smith reacted with surprise:
The thrust of Chuck's argument is that this L.A. Lakers team is not going to compete for a title this year. They might not even compete for a playoff spot. So what's the point?
Why risk further damage to the Achilles and now the knee when you're signed on to play for two more full seasons at a price of $48.5 million?
The Lakers and Kobe would be much better off having him back at full strength next season, with perhaps a more competitive roster.
Or maybe even a new pupil for Kobe to mold and help develop. That might be the next great challenge for him, as it's difficult to imagine him carrying a team anymore:
Jordan was a shell of his previous self in Washington, and Barkley thinks Kobe will follow that pattern.
But that doesn't mean he can't still have a positive impact on the future of the organization. If the Lakers shut Kobe down and wind up in the lottery, they might finally find his heir.
And if they're lucky enough to land a potential superstar like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid, that heir might help Kobe compete for a sixth NBA title.