The Los Angeles Lakers made some big moves at last week’s trade deadline and now, on paper, look like a team that could make a serious push for a playoff spot. The team has split its first two games since the deadline, but there is one huge caveat in that superstar LeBron James has yet to suit up.
In fact, LeBron has missed the last three contests since breaking the NBA’s all-time scoring record with ongoing left foot issues that have been plaguing him throughout much of the season. It got so bad recently that James had an MRI done, which thankfully came back showing no serious issues. But any time LeBron has been on the court, he has played big minutes and that is concerning to some people around the team.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, some people he has spoken to within the Lakers organization are concerned about running LeBron into the ground with the number of minutes he is playing while dealing with this injury:
“Some of the people I speak to around the team, let’s put it that way, were like, ‘What are we doing here, playing him 40 minutes again?’” Dave McMenamin said. “‘We’re going to run him into the ground.’ And it’s not the minutes necessarily. It’s the minutes while a player is dealing with something that’s been pervasive.”
James is currently averaging 36.4 minutes per game for the Lakers this season, tied for seventh-most in the NBA. He has not clocked less than 30 minutes in any game this season. For comparison, Giannis Antetokounmpo has nine games under 30 minutes and Jayson Tatum has four. On the Lakers’ recent five-game road trip, LeBron eclipsed 40 minutes twice and just under that mark in a third game.
That is a huge load for any player, let alone one in his 20th NBA season at 38 years old. Combine that with this lingering injury and it is completely understandable why some within the Lakers are concerned, even as LeBron continues to defy all logic and expectations with his performances.
Hopefully with the moves the Lakers made at the deadline, they will be able to alleviate some of the pressure and burden on James and be able to get him some more rest during games, making him more effective when he is on the court.
LeBron James to return for Lakers against Pelicans ‘in all likelihood’
Thankfully for the Lakers, the return of James seems likely to occur in the team’s final game before the All-Star break on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. Head coach Darvin Ham says that LeBron will suit up ‘in all likelihood’ on that night.
With LeBron on the court, and recent acquisition Mo Bamba having finished serving his suspension, the Lakers will potentially be at full strength when they take the court.
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