First and foremost on that list is health, and that includes the health of LeBron James, who didn’t play against Brooklyn. According to head coach Darvin Ham, he is dealing with “significant soreness” in his left foot.
Darvin Ham said LeBron is experiencing “some really significant soreness” in his left foot that the Lakers want to get under control. Anthony Davis’ absence was planned because the medical staff doesn’t want him playing back-to-backs at this point in his ramp-up.
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 30, 2023
Ever since joining the Lakers four seasons ago, James has dismissed the idea of sitting games out every now and then for load management. However, some would argue that this would be the time for him to give in to such an idea.
He is 38 years of age and playing in his 20th season, and although he is still playing at an unreal level, he has become a bit more injury-prone since coming to L.A.
James missed several weeks in the 2018-19 campaign with a groin injury, and he suffered a severely sprained ankle two seasons later that cost him another several weeks of game action.
Last year, he suffered an abdominal injury early in the schedule, then a knee ailment that hampered him all throughout the second half of the season and another sprained ankle in the spring.
Whether James embraces load management or not, it would be prudent for the Lakers to lower his minutes. He is averaging 36.3 minutes per game this season, which is way too much for someone with the kind of wear and tear he has.
The good news is they can now do so without sacrificing wins, thanks to last week’s trade that brought them forward Rui Hachimura. While Hachimura isn’t a star, he is a somewhat proven scorer who can get buckets in isolation situations, especially when the game slows down.
Meanwhile, James is rapidly closing in on surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. It is looking like he will likely do so next week either against the Oklahoma City Thunder or Milwaukee Bucks, both of which will be home games.