Los Angeles Lakers standout LeBron James did not accompany the rest of the team on a late-night trip to Sacramento after a 114-104 loss to the Phoenix Suns and will miss his first game of the season on the road against the Kings, according to the team.
James and teammate Anthony Davis were selected for this weekend’s All-Star game in Atlanta, but Davis will not play on Sunday because of a right calf strain that’s forced him to miss L.A.’s last eight games.
James intends to play in the All-Star game and will get an extra day’s rest before travelling to Atlanta for this weekend’s festivities.
James has played in all of L.A.’s 36 games this season, leading the Lakers in points (25.8), assists (7.8) and minutes played (34.6) per game.
NBA observers around the league have lamented the fact that James has not bought into load management, given he’s 36-year-old and coming off 71-day, shortened offseason due to his team’s NBA championship run in the Orlando bubble last year.
“For me, it’s staying in the moment, keeping my guys motivated and upbeat,” James said after the Phoenix game, when asked about his team grinding through the first half of the regular season. “You can definitely tell that some of our guys are just feeling the long season that we had last year with the bubble and then coming right back on to the season we have this year. A lot of guys are looking forward to the break, so it will be beneficial to our guys.”
Along with James, the Lakers could also be without Marc Gasol and Kyle Kuzma.
Gasol missed Tuesday’s loss to the Suns due to the league’s health and safety protocols while Kuzma was a late scratch because of a right heel contusion. Alex Caruso also left the Phoenix game in the second half with neck spasms and did not return, leaving his availability for Wednesday’s game against the Kings in question.