The Lakers were already missing Anthony Davis (Achilles and calf), Marc Gasol (health and safety protocols) and Kyle Kuzma (right heel contusion) in their loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, and while Gasol and Kuzma’s statuses for Wednesday’s game vs. the Sacramento Kings are still up in the air, and least one player won’t be joining whatever Lakers are in the lineup for that one: LeBron James, who is finally sitting for some load management.
Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the story:
Lakers’ LeBron James will sit out his first game of the season on Wednesday at the Sacramento Kings on the back-to-back, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The absence won’t impact his All-Star Game appearance Sunday in Atlanta.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 3, 2021
The Lakers officially announced that LeBron didn't travel to Sacramento and added that he will be getting treatment back in L.A.— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 3, 2021
This is a sensible move for James and the Lakers. The team has actually done an admirable job at keeping the 36-year-old’s minutes and usage down this season — even with Davis sidelined — but given that this is the last game before the All-Star break, the second night of a home-road back-to-back and likely to be a weird, helter-skelter showdown anyway by virtue of how banged up the Lakers are, ensuring that James doesn’t overtax himself here is the prudent call. Especially since he’s still planning to play in the All-Star game, which he’ll now have one extra day of rest (and one or two less flights) before.
With James out, expect Dennis Schröder and Montrezl Harrell to get all the shots their hearts desire, and Talen Horton-Tucker to play a bigger role as a facilitator and playmaker on the wing without the normal hub of the Lakers’ offense. Who knows how that goes, or what the hell the Lakers do to adjust beyond that to life without both of the stars they’re built around. The only thing we do know is that if the Lakers somehow pull this game out despite being this shorthanded and weary on the road against a rested Kings, Luke Walton is almost definitely getting fired.