When LeBron James inked his 4-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers, he did something that he never did for Cleveland; he committed to them for four seasons. Locking James down for the foreseeable future not only gives the Lakers instant contention aspirations but it also gives them time to build around him. One of the James’ most important traits is his ability to keep his body in peak shape and stay healthy throughout his 15-year career.
The Lakers are clearly aware of this and want James to stay healthy for the duration of his time in Los Angeles. In an interview with ESPN Los Angeles, head coach Luke Walton addressed some of the preliminary thoughts he has on how they will keep LeBron healthy for the grueling NBA season:
Luke said he would prefer LeBron to sit out practice rather than games, but he also said that the Lakers have LeBron for four years and they want to keep him healthy for the whole time, so they'll be healthy.
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 8, 2018
Clearly, Walton would rather James miss practice because the games are what actually count. However, it seems like he expects James to miss games here and there in order to make sure he is well-rested for a playoff run this season. Last season, the 34-year old played in all 82 games and has led the league in minutes per game the last two seasons at 37.8 and 36.9 minutes, respectively. On top of all that, the most games he has missed in a season in his career was in 2014-15 when he missed just 13 games.
The Lakers battled injuries all last season and if they want to make a push for a top seed in the Western Conference this season, James cannot afford to miss significant time. It seems as if Walton believes missing a few games here and there will not only keep James fresh but alleviate some of the danger of a major injury.