ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports that LeBron James practiced on Sunday for the first time since receiving an anti-inflammatory injection in his back. Despite the precautionary measure, he should be good to go for the Cavs for their opening tip against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.
LeBron missed the last four preseason games for Cleveland after receiving the injection, the same one he took this past January, when he took a two-week recuperative sabbatical that came right before the Cavs took off. However, this time around, James took it as a preventive measure so he could be healthy for the start of the new season.
Still, that doesn’t mean LeBron will be suiting up for all 82 games. With Cleveland the clear favorite in the Eastern Conference, and LeBron getting up there in miles (he turns 31 in December, but this is his 13th season), he told reporters he would sit out games this season if he believes he again needs the respite.
When they say, ‘rest,’ it’s not like I’ve just been sitting on my ass for a week and a half. Because I haven’t. I’ve been doing so much strengthening and conditioning and things of that nature. The rest just comes from not being able to be in contact practices and pounding a lot on the floor.
“But it’s always been in the works, and if it happens again where I need to sit down for another week for the better of the team, then [that will be] in the works as well.”
Of course David Blatt would love it if LeBron were able to play in every game to ensure the Cavs lock up home-court advantage throughout the postseason, but the real important thing is that he feels 100 percent for the inevitable long playoff run (he has been to the Finals the last five years). But few teams are better equipped than Cleveland to stay afloat in the regular season if their superstar player has to take a few games off. The Cavaliers still have Kevin Love to shoulder some of the load, and Kyrie Irving should be coming back at some point; both players have been the primary offensive option in the past.
LeBron played a career low 36.1 minutes per game last season and missed a career-high 13 contests. However, he may play even less this season if rest is what he needs to finally bring a championship to Cleveland.
I’m sure Cavs fans will be just fine with that trade.