LOS ANGELES • LeBron James and Anthony Davis will sit out the Los Angeles Lakers' first exhibition game following the shortest off-season in National Basketball Association (NBA) history, US media reported on Thursday.
The Lakers faced the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday in the first of four exhibition games ahead of the 2020-21 season, which starts on Dec 22, but the contest did not include the star duo.
On the reason for "load management" even before the term begins, Lakers coach Frank Vogel told the Los Angeles Times: "It makes me want to do less live work, actually, just out of concern for making sure our players aren't put in a situation where they can be vulnerable to injury.
"If your body is not used to playing live basketball, like you typically would be building up to a normal training camp, I think you have to take it slower, do more drill work, try to put your system in through drill work as much as possible.
"And then, introduce the live action at a slower pace to get their bodies used to contact again."
NBA players are getting six weeks less rest compared to the typical off-season and Davis is wary of overexerting himself too fast, too soon, particularly as the NBA Finals are expected to conclude by late July, just before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
"I don't want to rush into anything," the All-Star forward told the LA Times. "We've seen, unfortunately, how (American) football went with no pre-season, shorter season, and a lot of injuries happen.
"You don't want that same thing. So, I'm going to build up the right way.
"(Vogel) has been doing a great job of doing that with our team, building up the right way.
"Coach is already on everybody about taking care of your body with a shorter season, especially with no bubble, Covid playing a factor. My job is to be on the floor with the team, but also doing it the right way."
The Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Oct 11 to claim a record-tying 17th championship.
6 Weeks less rest than usual for NBA players before the start of a new season after the previous term was disrupted by the coronavirus shutdown.
They have three more pre-season games, one against the Clippers and two against the Phoenix Suns, before opening the regular season on Dec 22 against the Clippers at the Staples Centre.
The other match-up on the first day will see the Golden State Warriors travel to the Brooklyn Nets.