LeBron James has had his longest offseason since he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. You know, the first time. The Lakers missing the postseason in James’ first season with LA meant a long summer, filled with free agent drama and a move that finally saw the Lakers acquire Anthony Davis.
Now that that’s all settled and a new season is upon us, the question remains what a new-look Lakers team will be with AD and LeBron. But don’t expect to see much of James when the preseason gets going. New Lakers coach Frank Vogel spoke to reporters over the weekend and was blunt about his plan for utilizing James before the regular season.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Vogel said you won’t see “a lot” of LeBron in purple and yellow in early October.
When asked how much he figures he’ll play James, entering his 17th season, during the Lakers’ six-game exhibition slate, Vogel said, “not a ton.”
“We want to be intelligent,” he continued. “We want to get him enough reps to get him familiar with his teammates and get everybody on the same page, some cohesiveness. But certainly going to be intelligent and not overdo it in the preseason.”
This certainly falls in line with the “load management” we’ve seen from James over the last few seasons, and there’s a delicate balance between wanting to figure out your rotations and also playing your superstars in meaningless games. One important aspect here is also that the Lakers offense is likely to be run through Davis this year, with those words coming right from James’ mouth. So not having LeBron on the court for most of the preseason won’t be as damaging to overall chemistry as it might on other James teams.
LeBron played 55 games last year and his 35.2 minutes per game were both career lows. But in a lot of ways this makes sense for a 34-year-old player who can still be dominant despite the fact that father time comes for us all. Vogel said when James does get on the court this preseason it will likely be with Davis, as he wants them to get familiar with one another and create some matchup issues.
This may surprise you, but in team workouts the teams with Davis and James on them have reportedly dominated the ones that do not.