LeBron James, Anthony Davis Reportedly Won't Play for Lakers vs. Clippers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) celebrates with teammate Anthony Davis (3) after an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Few players need preseason games to get ready less than LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers are treating these contests accordingly.

The pair sat out the Lakers' preseason opener Friday and will not play in Sunday's game either, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Both games were against the L.A. Clippers, meaning fans will have to wait until the regular season to see the Lakers' brightest stars go up against their city rivals.

Frankly, it would be a surprise if the Purple and Gold didn't rest James and Davis as much as possible in the early going in 2020-21.

After all, they finished winning the NBA title on Oct. 11 and will start the upcoming season less than three months later on Dec. 22 against the Clippers. The Lakers have enough talent to make the playoffs even if both stars miss time during the regular season, and the team is once again in championship-or-bust mode with more focus on the playoffs.

What's more, the Lakers and every team in the league will have more freedom to rest players for non-nationally televised games this season.

The NBA sent its teams a memo explaining some of that freedom extends to back-to-back games and the ability "to rest a key veteran player who played a substantial role on a team that advanced deep into the 2020 playoffs, or to rest a player who is still returning to full strength after recovering from COVID-19," per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Factors such as age and overall workload will also contribute to how much freedom teams will have to rest players.

James turns 36 years old this month and helped carry the Lakers to his fourth career title in October. Age and workload certainly suggest he can rest at times this season, and he spoke to reporters about the plan Monday:

"I've always listened to my coaches. We had the same thing last year. We're going to be as smart as we can be on ... making sure that my body, on making sure that I'm ready to go.

"Obviously, every game matters, but we're competing for something that's high. We don't ever want to shortchange our stuff. For me personally, that's a fine line with me, but understanding that it's a shortened season. I think it's 71 days that the offseason is going to be, the shortest [offseason] for any professional sport ever.

"We're very conscientious about what we're going to do going forward, as far as me personally."

It's far from a surprise, then, that James and Davis are easing into preseason competition.