In a surprising move, Kobe Bryant has decided to step aside so that the Los Angeles Lakers can build towards the future, according to ESPN. Earlier in the week, he instructed head coach Byron Scott to reduce his minutes and role so that D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle can have bigger roles on offense and defense. Scott had been hesitant about scaling back with Bryant because he wanted his former teammate to retire on his own terms. Byron was highly-criticized by others for stifling the development of his younger players because of his extreme loyalty to Kobe.
There are 59 games remaining on the schedule for the Los Angeles Lakers. If Kobe Bryant wants to make sure that he gets to enjoy every single one of those, then reducing his minutes is a great way to ensure that happens. At 37, his body cannot take as much of a toll as it used to, especially after all the injuries over the past couple of years. Thus far this season, Bryant has averaged a little more than 30 minutes a game. Byron Scott needs to reduce that so that Kobe is playing closer to 20 to 24 minutes a night.
This is the opportunity that D’Angelo Russell has been waiting for all season. Coming into his rookie season in the NBA, the 19-year-old guard knew that Kobe Bryant was the centerpiece of the Los Angeles Lakers. Russell also knew how loyal Byron Scott was to Kobe. D’Angelo struggled to find a fit in the offense. That affected him on the defensive side of the ball as well. Scott has benched Russell as punishment, but with Bryant stepping aside, D’Angelo will now be allowed to learn through his mistakes and become a franchise player.
Jordan Clarkson has quietly been the most consistent player for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. His efficiency has been one of the bright spots in what has been a gloomy season. Kobe Bryant stepping aside bodes really well for Clarkson as he is trying to convince general manager Mitch Kupchak to offer him a large contract when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Kupchak can offer Jordan as much as $88.5 million for four years, which would exceed what any other NBA team can pay the six-foot, five-inch, 185-pound guard. Clarkson’s 15.2 PPG average is solid but the Lakers would like to see more to be comfortable with locking him up.
Are you surprised that Kobe Bryant would have it in him to actually step aside for the Los Angeles Lakers?
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