Lakers weigh Kobe Bryant's status as injuries continue to nag star

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- With Kobe Bryant continuing to deal with nagging injuries, longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti suggested to coach Byron Scott on Tuesday night that they "shut down" Bryant for one to two weeks during what is his 20th and final NBA season.

Bryant, who said he plans to retire this summer, has missed four of the Lakers' last seven games, and he played just 16 minutes in Tuesday's win over the New Orleans Pelicans because of a strained right Achilles.

"[Vitti] would love to shut [Bryant] down," Scott said after Wednesday's practice. "But that probably isn't going to happen. [Bryant] doesn't want to shut it down."

Scott was referring to Bryant's reluctance to sit out that long, especially as fans pay high ticket prices to see him make his final appearances at arenas around the country.

On Thursday, Bryant will make his final stop in Oakland, California, when the Lakers play the Golden State Warriors.

"He feels a certain responsibility to play in these arenas, which is admirable of him, but my responsibility is to make sure that he can play this season," Scott said.

Bryant also has been sidelined with back issues and a sore lower left leg this season. He will travel with the team to the Bay Area, but Scott said he isn't sure if Bryant will play. Bryant, who didn't speak to reporters Wednesday, is officially listed as questionable.

"My biggest concern is I want that man to finish the season standing up on the court and getting the respect he deserves," Scott said.

Scott said the next step is to sit down with Bryant, Vitti and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak to discuss the best possible approach so that Bryant finishes the season healthy.

Scott said all concerned parties need to reach a "happy medium" regarding Bryant's playing time.

Bryant is averaging 30.4 minutes per game, the most any player has averaged in his 20th NBA season. The next five on the list are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 22.9 minutes per game, Kevin Garnett at 20.3 per game, Robert Parish at 14.7, Kevin Willis at 11.9 and Moses Malone at 11.2.

Said Scott: "Obviously he can't play 30-32 minutes per game."