The Millionaire Vacationer Set to Return to the Lakers’ Lineup

Fresh from a lovely week of sun and surf and skiing and sightseeing, the Lakers’ 23-million-dollar-a-year-man, it is rumored, has concluded his early-season vacation, and will make an appearance in uniform tonight, and could rack up some NBA game minutes. The Lakers are at home against Phoenix tonight, and the last time that one Kobe Bean Bryant faced the Suns, it was a one-millionaire show. Kobe played 44 minutes, 1.22 minutes per year of his life, and took 37 shots, 1.03 per year of his life, scoring a game-high 39. He even passed off for one assist. But, alas, HIS Lakers went down to defeat, losing to the visitors 112 to 106. This did represent a slightly different approach on the part of the millionaire vacationer, as a few days earlier, playing in Phoenix, he took only 25 shots, still scoring 31 in 28 minutes on the court, but that strategy did not work, either, as HIS Lakers lost by an even bigger margin, 119 to 99.

So, amid promises of reduced playing time, just how long will the millionaire vacationer play tonight? The Lakers lost by 20 with him playing 28 minutes, they lost by 6 with him playing 44 minutes, but in three games without him, they've been outscored by an average of five points per game. Ah, the decisions that a head coach, and also Byron Scott, have to make.

My guess is the following: If the Lakers make it a
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close game, the millionaire vacationer will play more minutes than his public has been led to believe that he would play, but if Phoenix builds a big lead, then expect to see him on the court for no more than 30 minutes.

The Lakers also meet the Suns at a time when Phoenix is on its hottest streak of the season, having won their last five. The strength of the Suns, generally and especially over this winning streak, has been their back court, and expecting the millionaire vacationer to play much in the way of defense may be asking a lot. Eric Bledsoe has hit his stride, and is playing his best of the season, and his best and with the most consistency, since joining the Suns, but the return to action of Goran Dragic after a back injury has been a big factor also, in their streak. Plus, they can always rely on instant offense off the bench from Isaiah Thomas, clearly the best non-starting point guard in the league.
In other Lakers' news, the team claimed rookie center Tarik Black off waivers from Houston, and released the injured Xavier Henry. Black had been a decent rebounder and defender this season, backing up the laughing man, Deeee-W Howard, and started a few games while
Deeee-Wight was evading the press and fans when the allegations of child abuse were made against him earlier this season. Black gives the Lakers an actual option at center, where the out-of-position Jordan Hill has played most of the time, backed up by Robert Sacre, whose increased playing time has resulted in it becoming painfully obvious that he is not an NBA-caliber center, even in limited reserve duty. I would expect to see Black get significant playing time, maybe beginning tonight.

Henry is a very talented player, and I thought he could make an impact with the Lakers, but serious injuries denied him the opportunity last season, and now again this year, and his time is up. I hope to see him return to health and find a spot somewhere next season.

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