Los Angeles Lakers superstar swingman Kobe Bryant has been "medically cleared for all basketball activities" after fully recovering from his shoulder surgery in January. While this bit of information is a welcome news for the Lakers fans, it is still uncertain if the 2015-2016 NBA season will be Bryant's swan song.
With this uncertainty, Lakers coach Byron Scott wants to ensure that the Lakers' franchise player remains healthy and he even pledge to do everything within his powers to make sure that the future basketball Hall of Famer will go out of NBA 'still standing.'
To do that, Byron said he will strictly impose a cap on the playing time of the 37-year-old Bryant and try 'to limit' his role in the team and not repeat the mistake of overusing him to over capacity.
He told the Orange County Register's Bill Oram, "I think the biggest decision is playing time, trying to make that as limited as possible and also back-to-back games. That's something we have to talk about. Other than that, there really is no other decision to make. He wants to play, and he wants to go out the way he wants to go out -- if this is indeed his final year... Because the one thing I want, if this is his last year, I want him to go out standing. I don't want him to go out hurt. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make sure we stick to the game plan, as far as his minutes and as far as back-to-back games."
Pressed to comment on the limited role of Kobe, Byron clarified that he does not meant to give Bryant a limited playing time but rather he wants to keep his marquee player as efficient as possible.
"But I know he knows his body better than anybody. When we start talking about those minutes, I want to listen to him more than anything. I'm not going to go by what I think he can play like I did last year, I want to really go by what he thinks he can play. Then I want to make sure we stick to that," he added.
Byron drew heavy flak for keeping on using Bryant despite Kobe himself asking his coach to limit his playing minutes because of his injury, particularly a broken kneecap. Kobe played an average of 36 minutes per game during the last season and more than 40 minutes on four occasions.
To his credit, Byron seems to have accepted his mistakes and vowed never to repeat them.
Scott commented he felt bad about his decision but did not exactly say he was guilty. "I know Kobe's a competitor and he's going to play as many minutes as you want him to play. I'm also a competitor, so I want to win and I know having him on the court gives me the best opportunity to win. But I also know that I've got to think about him more than anything. And I thought there were points in time last year where I thought he could play a certain amount of minutes. He told me Day One the minutes that he thought he could play in and like I told him at the end of the day, 'You were absolutely right and I was wrong.' I won't make that mistake again," he added.
With Kobe not playing at his peak, the last season was horrible for the Lakers. The Lakers was 12-27 by mid-January and sat a full 10 games behind the eighth-seeded Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference.
However, with Kobe back in action and with the Lakers making several key acquisitions in the off-season, the team is expected to make a better run this coming NBA season.