As the Los Angeles Lakers have slipped further out of the Western Conference playoff picture since the All-Star break, some of the discussion has shifted to potentially resting LeBron James and invariably improving the team’s odds in the 2019 NBA Draft.
On the heels of head coach Luke Walton conceding ‘goals could change’ over the final 17 games of the regular season, came a report of the Lakers intending to limit James’ minutes. Although some of it may be semantics, Walton pushed back on the idea of a ‘restriction’ or hard cap being in place.
“I’m going to continue to monitor them and play him where I want,” Walton explained. “It won’t be a restriction as far as what his max minutes are. If there’s games where I feel like playing him more minutes, I’ll play him more. But I will keep a closer eye on how much I’m playing him.
“Just make sure we keep him healthy to finish the season. He’s still got a little bit lingering from the (groin) injury, there’s always compensation, and with the amount of miles he’s put on those tires, anything we can do to keep him as fresh as possible, we’re going to try to do that.”
And with the report suggesting James would sit one game in a back-to-back scenario, which the Lakers have three of, Walton indicated a decision has not yet been made on such. “Those are still up for discussion with the staff,” he said.
Although he was amenable to scaling back his minutes, James previously made it clear it would take plenty of convincing from the front office to convince him to sit games out. In light of where the situation now stands, Walton said there wasn’t any pushback from James.
“He understands. Obviously he’s a competitor and wants to be out there competing, but he also sees the big picture,” Walton said.