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Lakers Notes: Kobe, Russell, Scott

Kobe Bryant said this week that he’s not considering a midseason retirement, and three longtime executives from opposing teams don’t think he will, as Chris Mannix of reports. Bryant is prepared to endure the pain of playing with reduced physical capacity on a woeful Lakers team, notwithstanding his 31-point performance in a Lakers win Wednesday, as he told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.

“Take it all in, man,” Bryant said. “One thing about it, if you’re going to win championships and you want to be a champion inside and out, you can’t run from very, very tough times. You can’t run from the criticism. You can’t run from the fact that you’re not playing as well as you want to be playing. You’ve got to stand up and face that stuff, just like when everybody was singing your praises and winning championships and everything is fine. You’ve got to be able to take it all in, with the same demeanor as you would when you’re winning.”

See more on Kobe and others who wear the purple-and-gold:

  • Bryant and the Lakers and haven’t had any talks about him assuming a non-playing role with the team after he retires, and rules prevent them from doing so until he’s no longer on a playing contract, but Bryant is open to the possibility, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. It would presumably have to be a front office gig, since Bryant has dismissed the idea of coaching. Coach Byron Scott figures the Lakers would welcome him in such a position, Bresnahan adds. “Me and the Buss family, we grew up together,” Bryant said. “Jeanie and Jimmy, they’ve known me since I was a kid. It would be an honor to help them make that transition and help them try to get back to the top.” Bryant also expressed receptiveness to the idea of owning a team, as Bresnahan relays.
  • D’Angelo Russell is improving, Scott said before Wednesday’s game, but Scott again held the No. 2 overall pick out of crunch time and wants him to improve his defense, Bresnahan notes in a separate piece.
  • Building around Russell and soon-to-be free agent Jordan Clarkson, finding two-way players to plug in at center and small forward, and exercising restraint in free agency are a few of the keys to the Lakers’ rebuilding, as Kevin Pelton of argues in an Insider-only piece. Pelton also suggests replacing Scott with a coach who specializes in player development, but it’s extremely unlikely that the Lakers will fire Scott anytime soon, a source told USA Today’s Sam Amick.

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