LeBron James: Lakers will be ‘smart as we can be’ with early work
LeBron James said the NBA champion Lakers will be “very conscientious” with their approach following a brief offseason.
The Lakers headline the opening night of the 2020-21 NBA season on Dec. 22, after James guided the storied franchise to its first championship in a decade on Oct. 11.
NBA SCHEDULE: Opening night, Christmas Day slates for 2020-21
Asked about the short break amid the coronavirus pandemic, the reigning Finals MVP told reporters on Monday: “I was like, ‘Wow!’ And I said, ‘Oh, [bleep].’
“Being completely honest, I wasn’t expecting that because the early conversations that were going on, I was hearing it would kind of be a mid-January start and training camp would kind of start after Christmas.
“We’re going to be as smart as we can be . . . we’re making sure I’m ready to [play]. Obviously every game matters, but we’re competing for something that’s hard.
“We don’t ever want to shortchange 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.”
James celebrated a fourth league title as the Lakers topped the Heat inside the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort.
He also earned his fourth Finals MVP, becoming the first player in NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL history to win the Finals MVP with three different teams. He also received the honor with the Cavaliers and Heat, per Stats Perform.
The 35-year-old will enter the new season fresh off signing a two-year, $85 million contract extension in Los Angeles.
Discussing his new deal, James highlighted the fact it aligns with the future of his 16-year-old son LeBron James Jr., aka “Bronny.”
“The best thing about it is the year I’ll be a free agent will be the same year my oldest son graduates high school,” James said. So I’ll have some options to see, for me personally, what I want to do forward, being around my family, being around my son more or continue to play this game I love with great health and great spirits. We’ll see.”
James will be 38 when his contract expires with the Lakers, and he added: “I don’t look too far into the future as far as myself.
“I just give the game as much as I can in the time being and see what happens. I’ve been blessed to be a part of 18 straight training camps. And I’ll never take that for granted.”
Last season, James appeared in 67 games and averaged 25.3 points, a career-best and league-leading 10.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds per games, while he averaged 27.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the playoffs.
One of six players in NBA history to average 25 points and 10 assists in a single season, James earned a league-record 13th All-NBA First Team selection, while being selected as an All-Star for the 16th time in his career.
James also moved to third on the league’s all-time points list and eighth on the all-time assists list, while becoming the first player to record a triple-double against all 30 current NBA franchises.