According to a recent interview ran by the New York Post's Peter Vecsey, Kobe Bryant has rarely practiced with the Lakers this season to preserve his surgically repaired right knee. According to the report, Bryant has very little cartilage left under his right kneecap.
However, after the Christmas Day game against Miami, Kobe felt it was necessary he started practicing at full speed again to light a fire under his unmotivated teammates. While I am sure the presence of Kobe during practice has been beneficial, it has also had its consequences.
Due to Kobe going full speed in practice the last couple of weeks, he has a puffy right knee to show for it. Obviously, the team cannot win a third straight championship without a fully healthy Kobe. So. in light of the recent report, should the Lakers sit Kobe until the start of the playoffs?
Last Season, Kobe sat out five games towards the end of February. In that span, the Lakers played spirited basketball, going 4-1 in the five games. The team had quality wins against the Spurs, Jazz and Blazers, and most importantly, the team's overall offense and defense was very consistent.
However, when Kobe sat out last season, the Lakers had a comfortable grasp on the top spot in the Western Conference. Currently, the Lakers are in third place in the Western Conference, 4.5 games back of the Spurs for the top spot.
It would be much more difficult to sit Kobe this season, due to the Lakers' position in the standings. If Kobe was to sit out until the playoffs, there is no guarantee the Lakers would snag a top four seeding in the conference. Also, I think it is safe to say the Spurs are not going to falter in the second half of the season.
I would love for Kobe to be able to sit out for an extended period of time, and get rested for the playoffs. It would give the rest of the team a chance to work out the kinks they have exhibited this season, If the team would play the way they did last season when Kobe was sidelined, the Lakers should do it in a heartbeat, However, there are no guarantees, especially if Kobe sat out for an extended amount of time.
I believe at this juncture, Kobe should go back to sitting out practice, and continue to play in games. Otherwise, the Lakers may be starting every playoff series in another team's arena.