Lakers face ‘balancing act’ with LeBron James amid quick turnaround?
Los Angeles Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka admitted this week that the quick turnaround from the conclusion of the COVID-19-compromised 2019-20 season to the tipoff of the 2020-21 campaign presents the defending champions with a fair share of obstacles.
After negotiations between the players and league that included deliberations about potentially beginning the upcoming season as late as February, the NBA and NBPA agreed earlier this month to open a 72-game season on Dec. 22.
There has been no shortage of consternation among players and team officials about the compressed offseason, including those expressed by Lakers star Anthony Davis.
Pelinka is among those in the league in that camp, specifically due to how a veteran like LeBron James will be impacted by having only 71 days of offseason to recover, refresh and reload.
In fact, Pelinka even concedes that the Lakers will have to be methodical when monitoring James’ minutes early on in the season.
“That’ll just be a balancing act throughout the season,” Pelinka said on a videoconference call with reporters Thursday, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “Recognizing that there was an extremely short layoff between championship and the start of the season and kind of figuring out what’s best for LeBron, what’s best for his health, the team’s health, what’s best for the league and kind of walking that carefully and thoughtfully throughout the year.”
Pelinka went on to credit James for being “so methodical and scientific about how he prepares his body” for each grueling NBA season. That doesn’t mean the Lakers won’t exercise extreme caution with the soon-to-be 36-year-old superstar, which presumably will include sitting him some games under the auspices of NBA’s controversial “load management” practices.
That may not play with James, however, as he has long abhorred the term and isn’t keen on taking nights off ever.
“If I’m hurt, I don’t play. … If not, I’m playing,” James once quipped.
That doesn’t mean that James is a fan of the Dec. 22 start date, and his thoughts on the topic were made abundantly clear shortly after the league’s announcement.
Bron’s reaction to the NBA having the shortest offseason— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 6, 2020
(via @KingJames) pic.twitter.com/4jDVizgGSH
Enough said, but that doesn’t mean the Lakers won’t encounter issues with James when convincing the star to sit a game out, even if it’s for his own good.