Lakers Plan To Reduce LeBron James’ Workload

Lakers star LeBron James played just 29 minutes in the team’s season-opening loss in Denver on Tuesday night, and that relatively modest workload will be a consistent theme for the 38-year-old going forward, head coach Darvin Ham told reporters, including ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

Ham said the plan for the start of the season is to keep James in the range of 28-to-30 minutes per game. He acknowledged that, with input from the team’s trainers and medical staffers, that number could fluctuate as the season progresses, but stressed that managing LeBron’s minutes will be a priority.

“It’s easy with him to get caught up in the emotion of the game and you tend to forget you want to play these long stretches, but in order for him to be as effective as possible, we have to be mindful of the minute output and how long his stretches are,” Ham said.

James said after the game that he’s confident he’ll still be able to make an impact in the minutes he does play and indicated that he’s on board with the team’s plan for him, adding that he wasn’t “surprised or upset” by his playing time on Tuesday.

“Listen, I mean, I always want to be on the floor. Especially when you got an opportunity to win a game or you feel like you can make an impact,” James said. “But this is the system in place and I’m going to follow it.”

LeBron averaged 37.2 minutes per game in 2021/22 and 35.5 MPG in ’22/23, but missed at least 26 games in both seasons due to injuries. It sounds like the goal this year will be to bring down his minutes per game while increasing the number of contests he’s available for.

While it’s certainly not the reason for the move, it’s worth noting that end-of-season awards like All-NBA now have a 65-game minimum requirement — if those rules had been in place in the past, James wouldn’t have been eligible to make an All-NBA team since 2019/20.

James has logged 38.1 minutes per night over the course of 1,422 career regular season games, never averaging fewer than 33.4 MPG in a season (2020/21).

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