EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — No matter how much Kobe Bryant struggles during possibly his final season in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers star will not be benched for poor play, Lakers coach Byron Scott told ESPN.com on Friday.
Scott told ESPN.com that under no circumstances would he sit the 37-year-old Bryant, who is shooting a career-worst 31.1 percent from the field and 19.5 percent from 3-point range.
“I would never, never, never do that,” Scott said after practice at the Lakers’ facility. “That’s not an option whatsoever. No, that’s not an option.”
Scott and Bryant were teammates during Bryant’s rookie season. Bryant is now in his 20th NBA season, all of which he has spent with the Lakers.
Bryant is averaging more field goal attempts per game (a team-high 16.4) than points (15.2). His field-goal percentage ranks him 122 out of 122 qualified players, and his 3-point percentage ranks last out of 105 qualified players.
ESPN’s real plus-minus, which measures a player’s impact on team performance per 100 possessions, placed Bryant 379st in the NBA and 73rd for small forwards, the position that Bryant has largely played this season. Last season, Bryant ranked 301st in the NBA and 55th among shooting guards, the position he primarily played.
In Tuesday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors, Bryant shot 1-of-14, tying the worst shooting performance of his career in which he attempted at least five shots. He also shot 1-of-14 last November in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Scott has been adamant that he won’t lessen Bryant’s minutes (30.5 per game, second-highest on the Lakers) nor would he change Bryant’s role (Bryant starts).
Scott was asked if the Lakers plan, then, would just be to keep Bryant as healthy as possible and put him in positions to succeed this season.
“Absolutely,” Scott told ESPN.com. “And we’ll just roll with the punches.”
Bryant is coming off three consecutive season-ending injuries, most recently a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that sidelined him after 35 games last season.