LeBron James looked every bit the best player in the NBA — still, at age 35 — on his way to winning another championship and Finals MVP. One theory as to why LeBron looked so good this past season was rest: For the first time in 14 years, he had a full offseason to recover (no playoffs) heading into the start of the season, then the coronavirus gave him a forced rest in the middle of it. That kept some older legs fresh.
Whether you buy that or not, rest certainly matters to LeBron, which is why he might balk at an NBA start before Christmas. That’s what Lakers’ teammate Danny Green said on The Ringer NBA Show (hat tip Logan Murdock).
If the NBA tips off next season on Dec. 22, as NBA owners are pushing for (it is still being negotiated), there will be just 73 days between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of the next season. That’s about half a usual offseason (140 days, give or take).
For a player prioritizing rest and recovery like LeBron, sitting out the start of the season may not be out of the question.
That said, players in general — and the players’ union — are expected to largely buy into the earlier start date, something ESPN’s Brian Windhorst talked about on his latest podcast. There are a couple of reasons for this. It is projected that the early start date increases NBA revenue by about $500 million, half of which goes to players, under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NBA is a business and that’s a lot of money for players to walk away from. Second, many players want to get back on something closer to a regular schedule so they can have their summers back.
If that gets my summer off season back lol https://t.co/iukbRDdBok
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) October 26, 2020
Don’t be shocked if LeBron is there opening night and on Christmas Day for the Lakers, but that he also gets a lot more load management days off next season as the league pushes through a condensed schedule to get back on its normal track.