Report: LeBron James was unhappy with Lakers’ plan to limit his minutes at start of season

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take much time at all for the Los Angeles Lakers to abandon their plans to limit LeBron James’ minutes during the 2023-24 NBA season, with the superstar reportedly against the idea from the jump.

“James bristled at the idea of restricting his minutes at the start of the season, sources said — an idea that was noticeably scrapped after just a few games,” wrote ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Back at the start of the campaign, the thinking was that James — then 38 years old and about to embark on his 21st NBA season — might benefit from a more limited workload than he had shouldered in the past. Instead, he went on to play in 71 regular season games, the most in his six seasons with the Lakers, while averaging more than 35 minutes per appearance.

Despite dealing with left ankle peroneal tendinopathy for much of the season and popping up on the injury report at times throughout the campaign, the superstar remained one of the best players in the NBA. He averaged 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game while helping the Lakers to a 47-35 record that was a slight improvement over their 2022-23 results.

Back in December, they won the NBA Cup as champions of the league’s first In-Season Tournament, and James was named its MVP after the team didn’t lose a game during the early-season competition.

However, the Lakers could not avoid having to eventually compete in the play-in round for a second straight season. After emerging from the play-in with a victory against the New Orleans Pelicans, they were eliminated from the playoffs by the Denver Nuggets for a second straight year, this time in five games after being swept out of the 2023 Western Conference Finals by the eventual NBA champions.

Since their season ended, the Lakers have fired head coach Darvin Ham as they get a head start on planning their future. Now 39 years old, James himself has a decision to make as he holds a player option for the 2024-25 season. Whether he will return to the Lakers or not remains an open question, but “all the signals suggest” that he will do so, according to a report.

At some point, it would seem inevitable that James will have to manage his playing time more closely as he ages. Yet with so much up in the air as the coming offseason approaches, how soon that happens remains to be seen.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.