LOS ANGELES — LeBron James and Anthony Davis will take the court in Wednesday’s preseason game against the Phoenix Suns, marking their first NBA action since winning the championship in October, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday.
“I do plan on playing AD and LeBron some first-half minutes, but just to kind of get their feet wet,” Vogel said on a videoconference call with reporters.
James, who will turn 36 later this month, signed a two-year, $85 million extension this offseason, and the 27-year-old Davis inked a five-year, $190 million pact to remain in L.A. as the stars look to defend the Lakers’ title.
Both James and Davis sat out L.A.’s first two preseason games against the LA Clippers to rest. The team is easing the pair’s workload after training camp opened up just seven weeks after the Lakers finished off the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Oct. 11.
“I just want to see them go out and try to get a rhythm,” Vogel said. “Get comfortable with some of their new teammates and try to get their legs under them a little bit. We’ve been trying to intentionally every day monitor the amount of work put on those guys after the shortest offseason in history, and that will be no different with these next two preseason games.”
James told reporters that with the offseason additions of Dennis Schroder and Marc Gasol as playmakers, he won’t necessarily reprise his role as point guard for the 2020-21 Lakers, after leading the league in assists last season for the first time in his career.
“Every year causes for whatever that challenge presents itself,” James said on a videoconference call Tuesday. “So, if it presents to me to be the primary ball handler and also try to lead the league in assists or to make sure I am being at the forefront of getting guys involved, then I can take that responsibility every single action. If our team doesn’t need that this year, then that’s absolutely fine as well.”
His charity, the LeBron James Family Foundation, made a major assist to his hometown community in Akron, Ohio, on Tuesday, announcing the House Thirty Three initiative. The endeavor will create a holistic center for community development where families can seek financial literacy, job training and find ample space for group gatherings all under one roof.
“We listen to our kids, we listen to our families and what their needs are, and we’re just not settling for what we’ve done in the past,” James said. “We want to continue to grow and believe House Three Thirty is the next step on providing the future for our kids and for our families.”
The effort is an extension of the I Promise School, which James’ foundation opened in 2018 and enhanced with housing opportunities and community center access since, to further support the at-risk students the charity intends to help out.
“My mom was literally one of those parents. I come from a single-parent household. I come from the inner-city. We come from not much at all,” James said. “My mom didn’t work. She was the only parent. She was 16 years old, walking through Central High School in Akron, Ohio, pregnant as a high school sophomore. And then unfortunately my grandmother passed away when I was 3 years old. My mom was 19. So we just, we’ve been through, I guess what you would say, hell and back. But we never wavered.”