Byron Scott says benching Kobe Bryant for poor play 'not an option'

ByBaxter Holmes ESPN logo
Saturday, November 28, 2015

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, coach Byron Scott told on Friday.

Scott said 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 122nd 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 379th in the NBA and 73rd for small forwards, the position he 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 in November 2014, 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 will 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 "And we'll just roll with the punches."

Scott said Bryant would play Saturday when the Lakers play the Trail Blazers in Portland, and then the team will evaluate whether he can play Sunday against the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center.

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 in 2014-15.

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