The plan was similar last season, and it completely backfired. Kobe Bryant ended up playing more minutes than the previous year. This time around, Lakers head coach Mike Brown is hoping things are different. Kobe Bryant’s knees feel good, and the team wants him fresh for a deep Playoff run. Per the LA Times: “Bryant said he did not feel drained after playing in the Olympics; he said the competition actually helped prepare him for the NBA season, which starts Oct. 30 against Dallas. ‘Sometimes it’s harder if you have the summer off,’ he said. ‘You get out of shape and then it takes more toll on your body to actually get back in shape as opposed to never really being out of shape and you kind of pick right up and you’re already at that level, so it’s actually a little less strenuous.’ The Lakers will be monitoring Bryant’s minutes closely heading into his 17th NBA season. He averaged 38.5 minutes per game last season, an uptick of nearly five minutes from the preceding season. Coach Mike Brown acknowledged that he doesn’t want a repeat. ‘If I can, I’d definitely love to keep his minutes down and not have them up to 38,’ Brown said. ‘But I’m sure he’ll tell you he can play 48, which is probably true if he needed to. But we feel like we have a deep team this year and hopefully at the end of the day it leads to reduced minutes for him.’ Shannon Brown’s departure before last season left the Lakers without a quality backup shooting guard, leading to increased minutes for Bryant. Enter sharpshooter Jodie Meeks, who made 37.1% of his three-point shots in his first three pro seasons before signing with the Lakers in August. ‘I think that’s one of the reasons they got me,’ Meeks said, ‘to keep his minutes down and keep him fresh.’”