Pros and Cons of Kobe Bryant Sitting Out Rest of LA Lakers Season
Kobe Bryant’s injuries might force him to miss the rest of the season, an occurrence that comes with positives and negatives.
Bryant rehabbed from an Achilles tear he suffered at the end of 2012-13 and rejoined the Los Angeles Lakers for all of six games this campaign. The former league MVP then fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his knee and is at risk of missing the remainder of the year.
Bryant could still return and play in a few games (give or take 10-15 contests), but it’s entirely possible that the pros outweigh the cons as it pertains to sitting out the year.
Bryant has had an assortment of injuries throughout his career, but he has rarely taken time to actually rest his body. Bryant is in the top 20 in total minutes played and has played the second-most minutes in playoff history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Bryant joined the league at age 18, and he's been playing professionally since then. Consequently, no one has played more games than Bryant in Lakers history.
Missing the remainder of 2013-14 will give him a chance to fully recover from his Achilles tear as well as his knee fracture.
Bryant can avoid adding meaningless mileage (Lakers are out of playoff contention) on his limbs and come back ready for the 82-game grind of 2014-15.
Con: Still Got It?
Bryant struggled some when he returned to the hardwood, and it’s quite possible that he feels the need to prove himself again this season.
In the six games Bryant appeared in, he averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 5.7 turnovers per game on 42.5 percent field-goal shooting. As a result, he is posting the lowest PER (11) of his career.
The two-time Finals MVP is as proud as they come, and he might want to return and show the world he can still play. More importantly, by coming back, Bryant can gauge what areas of his game need more refinement to take on defenders going into next season.
Bryant needs to compete against NBA caliber players in order to understand how to best cope with whatever new limitations he has.
Pro: Talent Evaluation
Bryant has been the focal point of the Los Angeles offense throughout most of his career, which means teammates have always been forced to take a backseat to him.
With Bryant on the sidelines, the coaching staff and front office will get an opportunity to evaluate all of the strengths and weaknesses of their young players. The veterans are mostly known commodities at this point whereas MarShon Brooks, Kent Bazemore and Kendall Marshall are still relatively unknowns.
The Lakers will have decisions to make in the offseason, and figuring out what they have will certainly have an impact on this front. Giving the young guns a steady dose of minutes allows management to determine whether or not they are viable options going forward, and whether L.A. must look elsewhere for talent.
Con: Race for Free Agency
The Lakers gave Bryant a $48.5 million extension earlier in the season, which compromised some of L.A.’s projected cap space for the summer.
The purple and gold should still have $26 million in cap space if they renounce all of their expired contracts, which gives them an opportunity to perhaps add a superstar.
However, prior to joining the Lakers, free agents will likely want to know if Bryant is healthy enough to play at a high level. Indeed, the idea of teaming up with Bryant to make a postseason run might sound appealing, but it does require for the future hall of famer 2-guard to actually play.
If Bryant sits out the remainder of this season, free agents might be timid when it comes to signing with the Lakers.
Pro: NBA Draft
The Lakers are on pace to win 27 games per Hollinger Playoff Odds, and that might potentially lead to a top-three pick in the NBA draft.
Although Mitch Kupchak is opposed to tanking, he probably realizes that bringing back Bryant might hinder the Lakers’ chances in the lottery.
If Kobe Bean plays himself into shape and regains his form by the final month of the season, the Lakers could win too many games and sacrifice prime draft positioning. With Bryant rocking his finest suits, Los Angeles probably continues to drop games at the same rate and accrues ping-pong balls.
Con: Tough to Chase History
Bryant’s name is already attached to most of the Lakers’ franchise records. However, one of the main statistical categories where he could still climb is total assists.
Bryant comfortably sits in the third spot behind Magic Johnson and Jerry West. He can overtake West by averaging three assists per game over the next two seasons, with a minimum of 60 games played in each year.
Then again, there is no guarantee Bryant will actually be able to even appear in that amount of contests. Thus, he needs every game he can get to pad his numbers and end his career as the Lakers’ second all-time leading assist man.
Johnson is completely out of reach (if Bryant played 60 games in each campaign for the next six years and averaged 10 assists per game, he would not reach Johnson), but nothing wrong with being second here.
Pro: Return of the Black Mamba
There is no way to measure this, but it certainly feels as though the longer Bryant sits out, the more venomous he becomes.
In an interview with LakersNation.com, Bryant mentioned he was fueled by revenge because of all the shots that have been lobbed at the Lakers during his absence. Sitting out has apparently made him cranky, and that certainly makes for a more entertaining 2014-15 season.
If missing the rest of the year is going to make Bryant testier, let us please shut him down then.