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Charles Barkley: Kobe Bryant should take rest of season off

Dec 20, 2013, 10:45 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant didn’t mince words, and neither did Charles Barkley.

“Only an idiot would” doubt his resolve to return, Kobe said.

“Kobe Bryant shouldn’t play anymore this year,” Barkley said.

Kobe is definitely right, and Barkley might be right.

Nobody should even consider that Kobe won’t work as hard as he can to get back on the court as soon as possible, but that’s precisely why Barkley is also on the right track.

It’s possible Kobe is fully healthy and rehabilitated within six weeks, as originally projected. I’m not convinced of that, given Kobe’s age, but it’s possible. If that happens, Kobe should return. There’s no sense of him sitting when he’s capable of playing.

However – and this is a point raised by Barkley – Adrian Peterson has set unrealistic expectations for returning from injury. This shouldn’t be a competition, though it will be to someone as competitive as Kobe. If he rushes back (again?), he’s exposing himself to further injury.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $50,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,500. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.The Lakers weren’t bad without Kobe, though probably not good enough to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. They were still finding there way with Kobe when he went down, and if he returns this year, they’ll just have to re-start that process.

I wouldn’t go as far as Barkley – “With or without him, the Lakers suck either way” – but this Lakers season hinges less on Kobe than perhaps any other.

If Kobe can get fully healthy for next season, even if that means sitting out the rest of this year, the Lakers will be better off. And if Kobe misses the rest of this season, he might even have a shiny new lottery pick to help him next year.

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