(Reuters) – 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 26 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 on Tuesday.
“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 anymore 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,” he added. “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.”
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet)