Three weeks into March, Kobe Bryant has only taken the court for the Los Angeles Lakers four times, and one of those games featured an 11-minute cameo appearance for his final game in Denver.
On Monday, Lakers coach Byron Scott did not exactly imbue confidence when he put Bryant's chances of playing against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday at "50-50." Certainly not helping Bryant's chances of playing on Tuesday is the fact that the Lakers play in Phoenix only one night after the game against Memphis at Staples Center.
Bryant has made a point of playing his final game in arenas around the NBA, and the 20-year professional's odds of playing in Phoenix should he considerably significantly higher than "50-50."
"I don't know, sometimes, until up game day — game time really," Scott said regarding Bryant's status after Monday's practice. "Sometime game day, he says he feels pretty good in the morning, and then, as we get later on in the day, [his right shoulder] starts to bother him."
If Bryant cannot play on Tuesday, rookie Larry Nance Jr. is an option at the small forward position, but Scott relayed that he had not yet determined whether that change would be implemented or Metta World Peace would continue to deputize in the starting small forward role.
Beyond Bryant, Scott also revealed that he would be stick with his young players late in the games "no matter what" from this point forward. With 13 games remaining in the 2015-16 season, the Lakers' promising youth should get a chance to finish games with regularity for the final three weeks.
"That's a great thing to hear," Lakers rookie D'Angelo Russell said he heard his coach's proclamation in the media.
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Russell added, "I wasn't really aggravated or bothered by being on the bench (against the Phoenix Suns on Friday) because [the second unit was] making runs."
Asked about how he had matured during the course of the season in dealing with sitting on the bench late in games, Russell offered an insightful view into the psychological struggles of being a rookie in the NBA.
"In this league, a lot goes on with no explanation," Russell said. "There probably will be no explanation, especially for a rookie. When things like that go on, you just got to stick to your craft and trust the process and come in everyday and try to be the best you can be."