The LA Lakers are coming off an impressive run to an NBA title guided by their stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The deep playoff push has also resulted in an abbreviated offseason for their roster ahead of the 2020-21 season. Before the campaign begins, the NBA has implemented a new rule that will change how the Lakers will work with James.
LeBron James inks a two-year extension with LA
In his second season with the Lakers, LeBron James accomplished another career-defining task of guiding the franchise to an NBA title.
LA didn’t hesitate in the offseason to reconstruct another potential championship-contending roster around their pair of star players. The team also found a way to further secure their long-term future by working out a multi-year extension with the four-time NBA champion.
LeBron James surprisingly agreed to a two-year, $85 million extension that pushes him under contract through the 2022-23 season. James has secured his future in LA through his 20th year, possibly extending the team’s title window.
The Lakers have positioned themselves wisely with their roster to potentially remain in the title picture over at least the next three years. However, the NBA has put forth a new rule that could impact how the franchise handles James’ workload this upcoming campaign.
NBA implements new rule against resting healthy players
Over the last few years, the NBA has had issues with teams resting their star players in marquee regular-season matchups.
According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, the league has taken the situation into their hands by sending a memo out regarding implementing a new rule for the 2020-21 season. The NBA has prohibited teams from resting healthy players for any high-profile, nationally-televised game. Any violation of that rule could result in a fine of at least $100,000.
Some flexibilities apply with possible exceptions to the regulation. Teams that are playing back-to-back games will have some leeway. Meanwhile, the memo stated that other scenarios could include resting a key veteran player who played a significant role for a deep playoff run or resting a player who is recovering to full strength from COVID-19.
The new rule puts the entire league on notice, which will alter the Lakers’ workload game plan with LeBron James.
LA will adjust game plan with LeBron James
The NBA’s decision to implement that new rule could have a drastic effect on the rest of the league.
The Lakers may be front and center dealing with LeBron James’ workload after an abbreviated offseason coming off an NBA title run. The four-time Finals MVP vaguely touched upon that new regulation with the hope of working around it wisely to keep him healthy throughout the year. (H/T Brad Turner of The LA Times)
“We’re going to be as smart as we can be . . . we’re making sure I’m ready to [play],” James said. “Obviously every game matters, but we’re competing for something that’s hard. We don’t ever want to short-change our stuff. As for me personally, it’s often a kind of fine line. But understanding with the shortened season . . . the offseason is going to be the shortest offseason for any professional sport ever. We’re very conscientious about what we do going forward as far as me personally.”
The Lakers will have the spotlight on them, with the league wanting their star players to play as much as possible. What should be heavily considered is the shorter offseason and the fact that he’s heading into his 18th year.
Nonetheless, the Lakers will have to find unique ways of working around the rule to keep James’ body fresh throughout the season. The league is entering unprecedented circumstances that will test the players on an entirely new level.