EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — As the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up their scrimmage on the second day of training camp, LeBron James was sitting on the sideline. According to head coach Frank Vogel, that’s probably an image everyone should get used to, for the preseason at least.
Vogel was asked after practice how much James would play during the Lakers’ six-game exhibition slate, and he made it sound like fans shouldn’t expect much.
“Not a ton. We want to be intelligent. We want to get him enough reps to get familiar with his teammates and get on the same page and build some cohesiveness, but we’re certainly (also) going to be intelligent over the preseason,” Vogel said.
Vogel did add that James was a full participant in practice and had merely stopped scrimmaging before the media entered, so there isn’t reason to believe this is because of some nagging injury. It more appears to be an approach designed to help James — who will turn 35 this season — stay healthy entering his 17th year in the NBA after injuries and aging limited him to the fewest games (55) and minutes per game (35.2) of his career in year 16.
James not playing a ton during preseason will undoubtedly be disappointing to some fans who bought tickets to see some extended glimpses of his new pairing with Anthony Davis, but rest assured, he and Davis are still getting plenty of time together. Vogel says that James and Davis are the one constant of every scrimmage team that will play together during training camp because he wants to get them as many opportunities to gel as possible.
Frank Vogel has tried different lineups with LeBron and AD each day of training camp so far.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 30, 2019
Day one: LeBron, AD, JaVale McGee, Danny Green and Rajon Rondo
Day two: LeBron, AD, Dwight Howard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Avery Bradley
Curious to see who gets the chance today.
Now, as for whether the Lakers limiting James’ minutes during the preseason will extend to him missing games there — or in the regular season for load management — Vogel said he wasn’t sure about that yet, either. He says the Lakers are just trying to be “smart” and taking “a common sense approach” when it comes to their superstar’s minutes.
“In terms of whether he’s going to miss games or whatnot, I’ll follow the lead of the medical team and their reporting of how he’s feeling. We’ll just kind of use common sense,” Vogel said.
Such a strategy would seemingly dictate not burning a bunch of James’ mileage in preseason games that don’t count for anything, so Vogel is backing up his words so far.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.