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NBA champion Lakers face 'balancing act' in fast-approaching season

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and teammate Anthony Davis celebrate their 2020 NBA Finals triumph over the Miami Heat - Mike Ehrmann / ©AFP
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and teammate Anthony Davis celebrate their 2020 NBA Finals triumph over the Miami Heat - Mike Ehrmann / ©AFP

(AFP)

The quick turnaround from the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA triumph in October mean the team will face a “balancing act” in keeping veteran superstar LeBron James at his best, Lakers vice president Rob Pelinka said Thursday.

“That’ll just be a balancing act throughout the season, recognizing that there was an extremely short layoff between championship and the start of the season and kind of figuring out what’s best for LeBron, what’s best for his health, the team’s health, what’s best for the league and kind of walking that carefully and thoughtfully throughout the year,” Pelinka said in a videoconference with reporters.

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James and the Lakers polished off the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals in the league’s quarantine bubble in Orlando on October 11.

With the 72-game 2020-21 season scheduled to tip off on December 22, it’s less than a month to the start of training camps on December 1.

James, who will turn 36 on December 30, has never been a fan of “load management,” the technique used by teams to give uninjured players rest during the season to make sure they’re in peak shape when the playoffs roll around.

“If I’m healthy, I play,” James said last December. “I mean, that should be the approach.”

But without the usual four months to recover from the rigors of the previous season, even former president Barack Obama has suggested that James may have to spend less time on court.

Obama, appearing on an episode of HBO’s “The Shop” said James is “definitely going to have some minutes restrictions” in the new season — quipping that he should let younger teammate Anthony Davis absorb the load.

“That’s what I got him for,” James said.

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