The Los Angeles Lakers are starting the 2020-21 preseason Friday, with an extremely short layoff and break of just eight weeks after they won the NBA title in the Orlando bubble.
L.A. faces a particularly tricky task of finding the right balance between building form and injury prevention considering how little rest the players and their bodies have had.
With training camps starting just over a week ago, the Lakers are already set to face the L.A. Clippers on Friday, Dec. 11, returning to Staples Center for the first time since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic halted the 2019-20 season in March.
However, they may do so without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. “We haven’t made that decision yet. I would say it’s probably unlikely that they will play,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said.
Speaking of the workload ahead of the Dec. 22 tipoff, Davis said he wanted to prioritize his well-being. The forward pointed out many football players suffered injuries having no proper preseason precede the start of the current NFL campaign.
“I actually want to make sure I’m good to go. I don’t want to rush into anything,” he said.
But Davis pointed out that Vogel and his staff were taking extra care of their players, particularly due to the added danger of potential COVID exposure and no bubble to protect the players. “All these things that can be game-changers for teams, he’s done a good job of making sure we are healthy,” Davis said.
“My job is to be on the floor with the team but also doing it the right way.”
Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka has suggested before that, considering the circumstances, the team could utilize load management strategies to make sure the players stay healthy.
James hints at load management
James has historically opposed load management, opting to play whenever his body allowed him to do so.
But considering the extraordinary nature of the preseason, he appeared to have left the door open for using the practice to ensure he stays healthy throughout the season. “We’re going to be as smart as we can be on making sure my body and I’m ready,” he said.
But James then added: “Obviously every game matters. We’re competing for something that’s high, so we don’t ever want to shortchange our stuff.”
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