The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly putting superstar LeBron James on a minutes restriction for the remainder of the season.
The report comes from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who notes that the Lakers are also unlikely to play James on back-to-backs.
This is, essentially, an admission by the Lakers that they won’t be making the playoffs this season. Los Angeles is 30-35, and six-and-a-half games outside of the playoffs, with only 17 contests remaining.
It means that James and his new team are officially saying goodbye to the chances of the 15-time All-Star meeting the Golden State Warriors in the postseason for the fifth consecutive season.
James missed 17 straight games in December and January after injuring his groin in a game against the Warriors on Christmas. In the 13 games he’s played since then he’s put up big numbers, but likely isn’t fully healthy, so the long-term play to limit his minutes is probably a good idea.
The Lakers will go back to the drawing board this offseason, and try to do something smarter with their money than sign players like Michael Beasley, Rajon Rondo, and Lance Stephenson. They will surely make plays at the biggest free agents - Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler - and will resume their attempts at trading for Anthony Davis.
We’ll see if they can finally make the playoffs and book a date with the Dubs in 2020.