In the wake of the Lakers’ latest loss, an ugly one to the Clippers that drove a final stake through the heart of the Lakers’ playoff dreams, a subject that was unthinkable in LeBron’s first 15 seasons in the NBA. LeBron played 42 minutes against the Clippers and was asked after the game about possibly scaling back those minutes as the Lakers fade from the playoff picture.
“Well, I mean, that’s a conversation that would probably be had between me and Luke [Walton]…” LeBron said. “We didn’t take care of business, so you kind of look at the rest of the games, and the percentages of what’s going on there in the future, and see what makes more sense not only for me but the team itself as well.”
Don’t, however, make the leap from there to LeBron sitting out a bunch of games, he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up,” James told ESPN, referring to the Lakers coach as well as, most likely, everyone from general manager Rob Pelinka, to president Magic Johnson, to governor Jeanie Buss. “Unless I’m hurt, I’m not sitting games.”
As of now, the Lakers and LeBron have not talked about reducing his minutes, LeBron said.
Also, expect that to happen soon.
LeBron is as well a conditioned athlete as the NBA has seen, but he has not been the same since his the groin injury that sidelined him for 17 games this season. At one point during the loss to the Clippers he grabbed at his groin, clearly in some discomfort, then asked out. He returned not long after. It is conceivable to see LeBron getting some nights off and reduced minutes over the last dozen or so games of the season.
It’s not something we’ve ever talked about with LeBron before at this point of the season, but this is a season unlike any other for LeBron.