Basketball

Load management not for me: LeBron James

Lakers star, 36, says 'I also feel worse when I play low minutes'

Fit-again Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James suggested limiting his game time would not bring the best out of him in what will be his 19th NBA season, as his coach said he had yet to work out how to manage the veteran's workload.

The 36-year-old four-time NBA champion missed 27 games last season due to a right ankle injury, playing a career-low 33.4 minutes per game.

He said it took time for him to become fully fit again but he was ready for the Lakers' new campaign, which begins against the Golden State Warriors this morning (Singapore time).

"I didn't do much basketball stuff for probably the first two months of the summer, which is very rare for me, because my ankle wasn't responding how I would like it to respond," James said on Monday.

"(Then)... I got to a point where I didn't feel any sharp pains any more and my flexibility was back to where it was before. That's when I knew I could get back on the floor.

"I don't play the game thinking about injuries. And I also feel worse when I play low minutes."

Coach Frank Vogel said the forward was very unlikely to play all 82 of the Lakers' regular season games, though "we're not going to pre-script X amount of nights off".

"In some ways, if he stays over there (on the bench) too long and he gets cold, it's worse for him to get back in there (on the court)," Vogel added.

"Especially since he's been playing this type of rotation for so long."

The Lakers have retained just three players from last season's team that went on to lose to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Western Conference play-offs.

And one of those three - Talen Horton-Tucker - won't suit up for the opener because of a thumb injury.

SUPERSTAR SIDEKICK

James and superstar sidekick Anthony Davis are now surrounded by the likes of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard, the latter two having returned to the team after playing elsewhere last season.

An 0-6 pre-season, which included two losses to Golden State, didn't surprise James.

"We're going to have moments where we're not quite right there," he admitted.

"We may take steps backward. I think nothing is worth having if it's not worth working for."

The Warriors retained six of the eight players who got minutes in the season-ending loss.

But they are still without All-Star guard Klay Thompson, who continues to recover from an Achilles injury that cost him the entire 2021 season, and big man James Wiseman, who is close to returning from a torn meniscus in his knee. - REUTERS

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