LeBron says “we’re going to be smart” about load management

Mar 8, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shakes hands with head coach Frank Vogel in the fourth quarter against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, many assumed that the Los Angeles Lakers would take a hit in their regular season record because LeBron James would start to be rested to preserve his body. That never happened despite the superstar coming off arguably the worst injury of his career in the previous season.

This year, things may be a little different. LeBron, who turns 36 at the end of December, was predictably coy about whether he and the Lakers had a load management plan for a shorter-than-usual season. However, he did not completely deny any speculation of it, perhaps giving some insight that he may be willing to sit some games to be ready for the playoffs:

Last year when asked about load management, LeBron had this to say:

“Why wouldn’t I play if I’m healthy? It doesn’t make any sense to me. My obligation is to play for my teammates. If I’m healthy, then I’m going to play. If coach sits me out, then I’m not healthy. It’s just that simple.”

So there’s already at least a slight shift in his mentality. That could be a result of an extremely short offseason, with about a 70-day turnaround between the Lakers winning the championship and returning to play at Staples Center. The lack of fans in the arenas could also be a factor in LeBron’s eventual decision to sit some games.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel also gave his thoughts on resting his stars, saying that he will give them opportunities to do so but that they will handle it on a day-to-day basis according to how the players feel.

The Lakers clearly still seem to care about putting together regular season wins and potentially getting an actual home-court advantage in the playoffs. Additionally, with so many new faces in the rotation, it makes sense that they want to take time to build that chemistry. Still, they know that health will ultimately have a massive impact on their season and that they can forego some wins if it means getting James and Anthony Davis to the finish line without major injuries.

Meanwhile, the NBA is cracking down on rest and load management of stars, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.

The league clearly had a vested interest in putting the best product on the floor for its TV partners, especially on the heels of a season where they lost a ton of money. But the timing, especially for teams like the Lakers and Heat who did not get a long offseason to recover from the playoffs is poor and could lead to significant injuries.

This will all be a challenge for Vogel to handle with input from both LeBron James and Anthony Davis

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