Entering Monday’s game, however, James was averaging 37.7 minutes per game in February, and on the season he ranks third in the league in total minutes. All of this is against the backdrop of having a six-week offseason and playing a truncated schedule that, for James, will include an All-Star Game on March 7. “We all need more rest. S—,” James said. “This is a fast turnaround from last season and we all wish we could have more rest. But I’m here to work, I’m here to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates and if I’m hurt or if I’m not feeling well then we can look at it then. But I have nothing but honest people around me. I’m also honest with myself, as well. And me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my teammates is more important than anything.”
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Kyle Goon: LeBron: “I’ve never asked for time off, or time throughout the season. It’s grown to the point where it’s not even from me anymore. … I’ve been hearing for five, six, seven years now and I’m still going strong. I’m not looking for a handout.”
Mike Trudell: LeBron postgame on this recent stretch: “It’s a challenge for us, it’s a little adversity … obviously injuries, and AD being a huge piece of our team … Dennis being a big (piece)… but we’ll figure it out.”
“At the end of the day, it sucks at times where certain guys have to rest but certain guys need rest,” James said. Neither Irving, who went off for 46 points against the Lakers, nor James, who added 34 points, would agree that the NBA has a problem of stars sitting out of too many games. They acknowledged the disappointment of fans and both said they wanted to play against the Clippers, but also said players resting at times throughout the regular season is unavoidable.
The Cavs were scheduled for games on consecutive nights 16 times this season. “This is our sixth game in eight days and I don’t think anyone realized that,” Irving said. “We’re not here to complain about it but honestly playing basketball six games in eight days is a lot. But we prepare our bodies for it and I don’t have any ill-will toward the NBA being disappointed or the fans because I totally understand.”
When the word “problem” was thrown at James, he pinned it against the backboard like an Andre Iguodala layup. “Well, I’ve been part of six straight Finals and every single season and every single Finals has been bigger and bigger and bigger and better and better and more people have tuned in,” James said. “So, I don’t see there’s a problem going on with our league. There’s nothing bad at all with our league right now.”
Cleveland general manager David Griffin told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the league office called him shortly after the team announced its decision Saturday. “Yeah, they were not happy,” Griffin said.
But the GM also said it isn’t his job to appease the league and its television partners (which include ESPN). “Yeah, and they’re paying me to win a championship,” he told Shelburne. “I’m not overly concerned about the perception of it. We literally had one guy rest tonight, and everybody else was reasonably injured, so I don’t feel like we did anything terribly egregious.”
Griffin said the Cavs’ situation was different than that of the Warriors, who rested healthy players against the Spurs. “It was nothing like the last time that happened,” he told ESPN, referring to last weekend. “Those were three healthy dudes that rested. That’s not what happened tonight. Yeah, it sucks from a timing perspective. I feel bad for the league. I really do. I feel bad for the league, but it is what it is for us, from an injury standpoint. As you know, we haven’t had a team together for more than a week at a time all year.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers rested their Big Three on Saturday night in a 108-78 loss to the Clippers, prompting protests from frustrated fans and former players. Among those was Hall of Famer Karl Malone, who had a strongly worded message for players who pick rest over performing. Sage Steele: HOF’er Karl Malone: “if you don’t have at least 10 yrs experience, get your a** playing. It’s not work, it’s called playing. Besides tell our underpaid service members & police & first responders to rest. Dammit, they can’t.”
Although his Clippers team was the beneficiary of the Cavaliers’ decision to rest LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on Saturday night, trouncing Cleveland’s reserves 108-78, coach Doc Rivers said that the NBA needs to address the “back-to-back” scheduling of nationally broadcast games. “We have to protect our product,” Rivers said. “It’s hard. It’s impossible, if you actually knew what went into scheduling, but the look of back-to-back ABC national games — it’s not good.”
Johnson, Rodney McGruder and Wayne Ellington said Heat players were disappointed when James and Irving were held out Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back set. “We wanted those guys to play,” Ellington said. “When we found out they were sitting out, we were like, ‘Ah, man.’ We wanted that challenge. We look forward to that. [Monday] is a huge test for us.” Still, James Johnson said the Heat felt no disrespect because the Cavs rested their two stars. “You’re going to rest players like that,” he said. “They’re at the top. Everyone is chasing them. They can do whatever they want.”
Charles F. Gardner: More Terry: “This is the second month of the season; there’s no reason to rest. You had all summer to rest.”
No one currently in the NBA has averaged more minutes per game over their careers than James’ 38.9. “They (fans) gotta understand this is not the 1900s any more, not the early style of basketball,” said J.R. Smith, James’ friend and teammate. “He’s played the most minutes of everybody in history of the game, and significant minutes as well. It’s not like he’s out there with 10 seconds to go in a meaningless game. He plays meaningful minutes in a lot of games. Not everybody’s done that and can’t do that.”
Lue doesn’t expect James to miss either of the home-and-home games against Milwaukee on consecutive nights, though that could change. “I know coach Lue has said plenty of times and we said the same, at the end of the day we’re here to win,” Jones said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to put ourselves in position to be as good as we can be in the postseason.” And Smith? “We’re not playing for now, we’re playing for the long haul and if they can’t understand that, we don’t expect them to because they are not a part of this organization,” he said.
It’s possible that had the Cavs’ game against the Pelicans gone differently – like, no overtime, no five-alarm-fire effort by James in the fourth quarter – he might’ve played against the Heat. James’ is indeed healthy, a source said, and “that’s why he wasn’t thrilled with the concept” of sitting out.
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March 3, 2021 | 4:26 pm EST Update
Shams Charania: The Milwaukee Bucks are planning to sign guard Myles Powell of G League Westchester on a two-way contract, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
March 3, 2021 | 2:57 pm EST Update
Marc Stein: World roster for the Rising Stars game — which will NOT be played this year — as the NBA announced via @nba_topshot: Precious Achiuwa, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Deni Avdija, RJ Barrett, Facundo Campazzo, Brandon Clarke, Luguentz Dort, Rui Hachimura, Theo Maledon, Mychal Mulder.
Marc Stein: U.S. Rising Stars roster as the NBA announced via @nba_topshot: LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Tyler Herro, De’Andre Hunter, Keldon Johnson, Ja Morant, Michael Porter Jr., Zion Williamson, James Wiseman.