Through 14 games of the 2014-15 NBA season, Kobe Bryant has played 40 or more minutes three times. On average, Bryant is playing 36 minutes per game, which is pretty high considering his age: 36 years.
Lakers coach Byron Scott has repeatedly stated that he's not concerned about Bryant's minutes because the coach is providing his star player star treatment in between games. More often than not, Bryant does not practice the day after a game. When he was ill, Scott told Bryant to stay home from game-day shootaround and just come to the game.
"It prompts me to give him more days off, if anything, so I can keep it in the 30-40 range," Scott said at Monday's Lakers practice.
Scott's hope is to keep his aging shooting guard fresh for games by cutting the practice time, so one should not expect Bryant's game minutes to drop in the near future.
Obviously, Scott's approach does not match the constantly lauded handling of aging players by the San Antonio Spurs. During the 2013-14 season, Manu Ginobili, who was 36-years-old at the time, averaged only 23 minutes per game. Back when Tim Duncan was 36-years-old, he only averaged 30 minutes per game. The Spurs, however, have a reputation of being the best in the business when it comes to controlling minutes.
Dirt Nowitzki, who is a couple months older than Bryant, is averaging only 28 minutes through 15 games in the 2014-15 season. Despite being the Dallas Mavericks' star player, the team is working to preserve its star by controlling his minutes. Over an 82-game season, Bryant is on pace to play about 650 minutes more than Nowitzki, which amounts to about 13 and a half 48-minute games.
Byrant's competitive spirit is the driving force that makes it difficult to take him out of games. Unbelievably, he would be averaging even more minutes if the Lakers had not fallen behind by so great a margin that a frustrated Bryant had to grab a seat on the bench for the conclusion of games on multiple occasions.
Scott, however, is doing his best to preserve his star in practice, so on Tuesday, the coach will give the 36-year-old time off for the second day in a row. After all, Bryant played 44 minutes in Sunday's loss to Denver.