LeBron James news: Minutes restriction leads to frustration after loss to Nuggets
LeBron James was productive in the Lakers' opening night loss to Denver, accumulating 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists on 10-of-16 shooting. More important, however, was the total number of minutes LeBron played: 29.
At first glance, it's strange for LeBron — arguably the best player on the team — to only receive 29 minutes in a game the Lakers were very much capable of winning. It's the first game of the season, too, so injuries and rest shouldn't factor into a player who is, by all accounts, healthy.
Darvin Ham told ESPN's Dave McMenamin that James will play 28-to-30 minutes on average this season. He is essentially on a season-long pitch count. At 38 years old, and with two decades years of rigorous NBA basketball under his belt, one can hardly be surprised that the Lakers are taking the extra cautious approach with LeBron's health. Especially after he missed 27 games last season.
James, however, doesn't appear thrilled about the setup. It clearly irked him after Tuesday's difficult loss.
"I always want to be on the floor, especially when you have an opportunity to win a game and you feel you can make an impact," he said. "But I guess there's a system in place and I'll follow it."
LeBron knows his body better than most, so the Lakers should at least listen to their star forward when it comes to preventative load management. Still, it feels like the smart play — even if LA runs the risk of losing games because James isn't on the floor enough. If more games like Tuesday's start to pile up, however, the Lakers could pivot to save their season. James is still that dude.