November 30, 2018 / 6:33 AM / in 4 months

Magic Johnson wants Lakers to preserve LeBron's legs

Magic Johnson believes the Los Angeles Lakers’ trajectory is pointed up. That’s why he does not want to see LeBron James worn down.

FILE PHOTO: Advertising displays of NBA basketball star LeBron James, who will make his home debut as a Los Angeles Laker October 20, can be seen in down town Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 19,2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Johnson cautioned against the dangers of placing too much of a workload on James and following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ blueprint. The former star point guard and current Lakers executive spoke Thursday during an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio.

“We are trying to make sure that we watch his minutes but also that we don’t run everything through him because now it is Cleveland all over again and we don’t want that,” Johnson said. “We want to get up and down.”

James is no stranger to heavy workloads. However, he will turn 34 in December, and the Lakers want to keep him as fresh as possible for the duration of the four-year deal that he signed during the offseason.

Johnson said the team followed several key indicators to measure James’ workload.

“Basically minutes, trying to make sure we don’t overplay him and then also usage of the ball in his hands,” Johnson said. “We got a lot of ballhandlers so we feel we won’t overuse him in terms of his ballhandling and also every play has to run through him. I think we got proven scorers — Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram — and then when you have two point guards like (Lonzo) Ball and (Rajon) Rondo, we don’t have to have LeBron having the ball in his hands all the time.”

The Lakers have won 10 of their past 14 games after a 104-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.

“We’re playing up and down,” Johnson said. “We look good one minute or two quarters and then we don’t look good the next two quarters. So we haven’t been consistent yet. I think they are still learning how to play with one another and trying to adapt to (coach Luke Walton’s) system.

“I’ve always said that in January we will look better and I still think that is going to happen. Tyson Chandler has added to our team because we defensively we needed a defensive-minded backup center to JaVale (McGee). ... We still haven’t come together. Once we do that, we will be a really good team.”

—Field Level Media

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