However, Lakers head coach Byron Scott said he will not take Bryant out of the starting lineup this season because of his lack of production, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com.
"I would never, never, never do that," Scott said. "That's not an option whatsoever. No, that's not an option."
Bryant, a 17-time All-Star, has earned the right to play if he wants to, but right now, he's not helping an inexperienced team that has the Western Conference's worst record at 2-12.
Bryant leads Los Angeles with 16.4 shot attempts per game, but his effective field-goal percentage (which accounts for the fact that a three-pointer is worth more than a two-pointer) could go down as one of the worst in league history, per John Schuhmann of NBA.com:
When asked if the Lakers' plan is to try to keep Bryant healthy, Scott said this, per Holmes: "Absolutely. And we'll just roll with the punches."
Bryant is coming off back-to-back seasons in which injuries caused him to miss a total of 123 games. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith didn't mince words earlier this week when he detailed his thoughts on Bryant's situation:
Calling for Bryant to retire midseason is extreme, but there is no doubt that we are watching his skills deteriorate before our eyes.
If Scott is publicly saying he won't bench him, Bryant is going to be part of the Lakers' plans, whether fans want him to be or not, and it could be tough to watch one of the all-time greats go out like this.