LeBron James In For Drastic New Role This Season

As the Los Angeles Lakers came up short in their season opener against the Denver Nuggets, some fans might suggest the team left something on the table, as LeBron James played just 29 minutes, while leading the team in scoring 21 points, nabbing eight boards and dishing five assists. But Lakers fans had best get used to it. 

Head coach Darvin Ham, when asked if 29 minutes is the "new norm" for LeBron as he begins his 21st NBA season, he replied "We'll see. In all likelihood, yes."

Obviously, soon turning age 39, injuries have started to catch up with LeBron the past couple of years, and clearly, going a little easier on him during the regular season is one way to cut down that. James averaged 35.5 minutes last year, but managed to play just 55 games. The season before, his minutes were at 37.2 per game, but again, only 56 contests played. 

Ham hopes to change that, so that LeBron is available on many more nights, and then fresher for the playoffs. 

"It's easy with him to get caught up in the emotion of the game and you tend to forget you want to play these long stretches, but in order for him to be as effective as possible, we have to be mindful of the minute output and how long his stretches are," Ham said.

As for James, he's on board with the decision, as difficult as it may be for him at times. 

"Listen, I mean, I always want to be on the floor. Especially when you got an opportunity to win a game or you feel like you can make an impact," James said after the 119-107 loss to the defending champion Denver Nuggets. "But this is the system in place and I'm going to follow it."

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