The Los Angeles Lakers fell even further out of the Western Conference playoff race on Wednesday night, losing to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Los Angeles is now 6.5 games back of the No. 8 seed and all-but eliminated from the postseason.
LeBron James was previously asked if he would consider resting or limiting his minutes once the Lakers were out of the playoff race. The Lakers’ star said that he would really have to be convinced to do that by his head coach, Luke Walton, and the team’s front office.
“That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up,” James told ESPN. “Unless I’m hurt, I’m not sitting games.”
It appears that’s happened.
Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Chris Haynes is reporting that LeBron will have his minutes restricted. He also likely won’t play back-to-backs.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) March 7, 2019
The NBA might not like it, but it makes absolute sense for the Lakers to rest LeBron (and lose as much as possible) moving forward this season.
Los Angeles isn’t making the playoffs and playing LeBron heavy minutes is just going to put more miles on a body that’s been through quite a lot. The 34-year-old forward has three years left on his contract with the Lakers and the franchise wants to make sure he’s as fresh as possible for those years.
Plus, the more losses the Lakers pile up, the better their NBA Draft Lottery odds will be, and with Anthony Davis still a top trade target, Los Angeles’ draft pick needs to be as good as possible.