Heading into the weekend, the burning question at the forefront of everyone’s mind is if and how much LeBron James will participate in preseason games for the Los Angeles Lakers. As he gets ready for the 16th season of his career, and given the heavy expectations ahead of him, you’d think he’d want to skip most of preseason.
On the other hand though, given how much excitement is surrounding his move to the Lakers, maybe he’ll want to give fans in the various cities they’ll play in a chance to see him in purple and gold a little earlier.
It sounds like we’ll have to wait and see.
“Last year I pretty much didn’t play the whole preseason besides one half,” James told reporters after the second practice of Lakers training camp Wednesday. “So I have no idea. I don’t even know how many games we have... Six? I have no idea. I’ll just talk with Luke, and I’m not gonna play that much minutes.”
Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported that James and Walton would have that discussion on Friday, and earlier in the week at Lakers Media Day, Walton made it sound like he and James will be in constant contact about how James is feeling and if he needs rest.
“Not a ton of emphasis right now,” Walton said when asked how closely he’d be monitoring James’ minutes. “That will come as the season is playing out, the two of us will sit down with the training staff and constantly be in communication about what’s best for him and what’s best for the team, because we definitely want to keep him fresh, but we’re not going to predict when or how that will play out right now.
“It will just be something that we continue to talk about as the season goes.”
Even if James plays, I wouldn’t expect more 10-20 minutes or so and at a fraction of the effort he’ll play with during the season. There’s just no point in a veteran with James’ miles on the odometer exerting himself before he absolutely has to..
Throughout his career, James has mastered the art of impacting the game while conserving energy, and those are games with some actual stakes. As these games won’t impact anything regarding the playoff chase, I would imagine we’ll see that same playing style, but to the nth degree.
That said, it would be cool to see James in a Lakers uniform, and that first glimpse will be legitimately special for those in attendance in cities that don’t normally get to watch the Lakers in person.
As with a ton around the Lakers at this point, though, there’s nothing we can do but wait to see how it plays out.