In less than a week, the Los Angeles Lakers will be back on the hardwood to play basketball against anybody other than themselves. Before the remaining eight regular season games are played, the Lakers will participate in three scrimmages meant to help teams get some conditioning and game fitness back.
On Friday, head coach Frank Vogel gave some insight into how he will manage minutes for those three scrimmages by saying that it is “unlikely” that stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis will participate in all three of those games. Vogel did, however, say that those conversations are ongoing and his decision has not been made yet.
The Lakers face the Dallas Mavericks on July 23rd and will also match up against the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards. All three games will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.
For the Lakers, this seems like an easy decision. The team has all but clinched the top seed in the Western Conference, sitting 5.5 games ahead of the rival Clippers with eight games left to go. Those remaining regular season games will already have a preseason-like atmosphere to them so there’s really no point in James and Davis to play in three additional games that will be even more energy-deprived after a four month absence.
Moreover, resting the two stars will allow Vogel to experiment with lineups that feature just one of them to maximize the Lakers’ positive minutes when they are not blowing teams out of the water with both stars on the court. In fact, Vogel will even get a chance to see lineups without either of the two All-Stars in case he ever has to dip into that well in the postseason.
Finally, this will give more opportunities to integrate new additions J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters into the fabric of the team while giving opportunities to rookie Talen Horton-Tucker and two-way players DeVontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo to keep them ready in case their number is ever called.