LeBron James won’t be on the court with the Los Angeles Lakers for their preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
James and the Lakers, however, aren’t concerned one bit. Despite being the oldest player in the league, and coming off a season where he missed 27 games due to a right foot injury, James is “100% healthy.”
“He looks fine,” coach Darvin Ham said Thursday, via ESPN. “He looks like third- or fourth-year LeBron.”
James averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists last season, his fifth with the Lakers. James, however, has yet to play a full season since arriving in Los Angeles due to injury — excluding the shortened COVID-19 season in 2020, which lasted just 67 games in the regular season before James led the Lakers to a title in the Walt Disney World bubble.
Though his age isn’t news to him — James will turn 39 in December — he’s now officially the oldest active player in the NBA after Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem retired.
James said that his plan is to get into at least half of the Lakers’ six preseason games. Their second game is on Monday against the Brooklyn Nets in Las Vegas, and then they’ll wrap up the preseason on Oct. 19 against the Phoenix Suns in Palm Springs.
“But we’ll see. I think every game will dictate it,” James said, via ESPN. “I will not be playing in Saturday’s game, that’s for sure, in the Bay. But we’ll see after that.”
The Lakers will open the season on Oct. 24 against the Denver Nuggets, who are fresh off their NBA title run.
Though a fast start would undoubtedly help the Lakers, who fell to the Nuggets in the conference finals last season, Ham knows it’s not needed when it comes to James. There’s no need to risk anything over the next month or so.
“[He’s] just kind of easing into it,” Ham said, via ESPN. “The fact that our roster is what it is, he doesn’t have to come start the season with his cape on, so to speak … The help that he has around him will allow him to not have to be full throttle in every practice and every preseason game.”