LeBron considers load management, maps future with Lakers

LeBron considers load management, maps future with Lakers

LOS ANGELES — After LeBron James emerged from the longest season in NBA history with a fourth championship ring, he returned home and planned the first Christmas family vacation of his adult life.

That’s when James learned that his 17th NBA off-season would be unprecedentedly short.

When James was told the NBA intended to resume games on Dec. 22, just 72 days after the Lakers beat Miami to win the title, the superstar admits he reacted with a mild expletive.

“Just being completely honest, I wasn’t expecting that,” James said Monday in his first public comments since the NBA champions opened training camp.

“Early conversations were going on, and I was hearing there would be kind of a mid-January start,” James said. “Training camp would start after Christmas, and we would have the opportunity to spend Christmas with our families. … I had to switch up a lot of things. I just started preparing my mind and preparing my body.”

James still reported to camp ready last week for his 18th NBA season and the pursuit of yet another banner with the Lakers, who added an impressive amount of veteran talent in the abbreviated off-season for their repeat quest.

James also showed up with a new two-year, $85 million contract extension through the 2022-23 season, setting his future in Los Angeles through his 20th NBA campaign.

James chose that year deliberately: His oldest son, LeBron James Jr., will graduate from high school in 2023. Bronny is a sophomore at private Sierra Canyon School, where he played a reserve role on the basketball team last season, and LeBron has previously spoken of his fond dream to play in the NBA with — or against — his son.

“The best thing about it is the year I’ll be a free agent will be the same year my oldest son graduates high school,” James said of his new deal. “I’ll have some options to see, for me personally, what I want to do (going) forward — being around my family, being around my son more, or continue to play this game I love with great health and great spirits. We’ll see.”

Whether that happens, and whether it will be in Los Angeles, won’t be certain for three long years. James intends to make the most of the meantime.

James will shoulder the physical challenges of this difficult year, but it isn’t easy: He said he was “sore as hell” Monday, although that’s normal every year after the first two preseason practices.

The uniqueness of 2020 has forced James and the Lakers to consider whether they should practice load management this season.

LeBron has largely declined to follow other stars’ strategy of strategic absences from games in recent years: He played in all 82 games for Cleveland in 2017-18, and after an injury-plagued 2018-19 in LA, he only missed four games last season.

Still, James has played 1,265 career regular-season games — already the 33rd-most in league history — and an NBA-record 260 playoff contests as he heads toward his 36th birthday later this month.

James and the Lakers haven’t decided on their plans for the regular season, with James saying there’s “a fine line” between strategic rest and unnecessary inactivity. He does sound amenable to limited action in the preseason, which begins Friday.

“We’re going to be as smart as I can be in making sure that my body and making sure that I’m ready to go,” James said. “Every game matters, but we’re competing for something that’s high. I understand that with the shortened (training camp) and the off-season is going to be the shortest in any professional sports ever, we’re going to be very conscious about what we do going forward and with me personally.”

Coach Frank Vogel says it’s too early to make a decision about how much James will play in the preseason or in the regular season.

“We don’t want to underdo it and then he’s not ready to play in real games, but we obviously don’t want to overdo it,” Vogel said of the preseason. “So really don’t know where that’s going to land. I expect we’ll probably see him some, but not a ton.”

No matter what James decides to do this season and into the future, the Lakers clearly have no worries about his long-term viability as a difference-making star. General manager Rob Pelinka signed James last week to a maximum contract extension that will keep him together with Anthony Davis for at least the next three seasons — an enviable situation for any team.

Pelinka says James’ success is rooted in the versatility of his game, along with his intellectual ability to excel with more than pure athleticism.

“Because of those gifts, he’s going to continue to be a dominant player well beyond what the regular, ordinary NBA player would be able to do,” Pelinka said. “It wasn’t even a debate for us. We think he’s going to be very effective and provide extraordinary value for every year he decides to play as a Laker.

“What was especially satisfying and exciting about (the latest championship) is that now you can see, with the legacy he’s establishing as a Laker, that his greatness will be defined here. I’m sure he’ll hang many jerseys someday, but we hope one of those will be a Lakers jersey.”

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Greg Beacham, The Associated Press

basketball

Just Posted

A gofundme account has been set up for Lilac the husky, of Blackfalds. (Photo from gofundme)
Dog ends up in coma after a walk in Blackfalds

Dog finds a baggie that likely contained drugs

(Contributed)
Red Deer man reported missing

Red Deer RCMP seek public’s assistance

An attendee of the Maskwacis memorial held on May 31, 2021, for the 215 school children found in Kamloops, B.C. the week before, holds a teddy bear. <ins>The grandstand was filled with 215 bears to represent the lost children. They were offered to residential school survivors at the end of the memorial. </ins>(Photo illustration by Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven before a confidence vote in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, Sweden, Monday June 21, 2021. Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven faces a no-confidence vote in the Riksdag parliament, after the Left Party said this week that it had lost confidence in Lofven and his center-left minority government. (Anders Wiklund / TT via AP)
Swedish PM loses confidence vote, sparking uncertainty

Prime minister has one week to call new election or ask parliament speaker to find a new government

A large number of supporters were out Saturday at a rally intended to bring awareness about including Hinduism in the grade 2 portion of the K-6 draft curriculum. As it stands now, Hinduism won’t be taught until grade 6 in the proposed draft curriculum. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Video: Rally to support adding Hinduism to draft curriculum draws crowd in Red Deer

The Hindu community in Red Deer came out in droves on Saturday… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Canada to unveil travel rules for fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents

OTTAWA — Canada is set to detail what quarantine rules citizens and… Continue reading

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky poses for a photo in Toronto on Monday, October 17, 2016. Two of Canada’s most prominent athletes are part of the ownership group of a new Las Vegas National Lacrosse League franchise. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu
Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash join forces with Las Vegas lacrosse team

League’s 15th team will start play in the fall of 2022

Orlando City and Montreal Impact players take a knee before their MLS match, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
CF Montreal finds two new home venues as Gold Cup comes to Fort Lauderdale

Exploria Stadium has been Toronto FC’s home field this year

Police and firefighters respond after a truck drove into a crowd of people injuring them during The Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival in Wilton Manors, Fla., on Saturday, June 19, 2021. WPLG-TV reports that the driver of the truck was taken into custody. (Chris Day/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Officials say deadly Pride parade crash was not intentional

Driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family

FILE - In this April 18, 2017, file photo, a conference worker passes a demo booth at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, in San Jose, Calif. Facebook is launching podcasts and live audio streams in the U.S. Monday, June 21, 2021, to keep users engaged on its platform and to compete with emerging rivals.(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
Facebook launches podcasts, live audio service

Handful of podcasts will first be available to people in the U.S.

Intricate cloth masks with Indigenous design made by Teresa Snow. Facebook/ Masks4Maskwacis
‘Masks 4 Maskwacis’ wins Northern Lights Volunteer Award

The group received recognition for their efforts to support their community during COVID-19.

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read