One of the newer terms growing in NBA circles is load management as the idea of it has been popularized by Kawhi Leonard and some have wondered if the Los Angeles Lakers would take the same approach with LeBron James.
Leonard played in only 60 games during the 2018-19 NBA season and has already sat out two of the Los Angeles Clippers nine games this season.
With James in his 17th season and coming off his first real injury, the idea of holding him out a few games to ensure his health and energy for the 2020 NBA playoffs makes some sense. However, James himself is having none of it.
The idea of load management was brought up to James following the team’s win over the Miami Heat and he made it clear that as long as he’s healthy, he plans to play, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing,” James told ESPN as he knocked on the wooden façade of his locker after the Lakers’ 95-80 win over the Miami Heat on Friday night. “That’s what has always been my motto.”
James would even add that he’s had this discussion with previous head coaches before and it never went well:
“Talk to my coaches,” James said. “You know how many times me and T-Lue [Tyronn Lue] got into it in Cleveland when he wanted to sit me and I wanted to play.”
The idea of load management seems to vary with the different players around the league. Missing a few games here and there so one doesn’t put too much wear and tear on the body makes sense. But some players prefer to play as much as possible and James is one of those.
For the Lakers part, it is probably better that he is in the lineup more often than not as they are built around the talents of him and Anthony Davis.
They has struggled at times when one or both are on the bench so to not have James on the court for a game would be a tough ask for this roster.
Of course, the most important thing is the playoffs, but James has always been something of an ironman throughout his career.