Following their loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to 6.5 games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
With just 17 games remaining -- including contests against the Warriors, Bucks, Raptors and Thunder -- all that's left for the Lakers to do when it comes to their postseason hopes is throw in the towel.
It now appears they're ready to do just that.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Lakers management has decided to put LeBron James on a minutes restriction for the remainder of the season. The reduction of James' workload will reportedly see him play 28-32 minutes per game and possibly sit out the second half of the team's three remaining back-to-backs.
"I was told that the front office spoke with his agent, Rich Paul, and explained the scenario with him," Haynes said on The Spin. "Everybody understood, everybody's in agreement."
Earlier this week, as he conceded his team's playoff hopes were all but over, James stated that he wouldn't sit out games during the final stretch of the season.
"That would take a lot of convincing from [head coach] Luke [Walton] on up," James told ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "Unless I'm hurt, I'm not sitting games."
A minutes restriction, however, could prove wise, given the unprecedented workload the 34-year-old James has carried over his 16-year career, which has included runs to the NBA Finals in each of the previous eight seasons. This season, James suffered the most significant injury of his career -- a groin strain that cost him 17 games -- and is currently averaging 35.6 minutes per game
Not onlyu could a minutes restriction help lead to a better rested James, but it could also give the Lakers a better shot at landing a higher pick in this year's draft lottery
For a team that entered the year with championship aspirations, that would hardly make for much of a consolation prize. But in the final 17 games of James' first season in Los Angeles, that's all the Lakers really have left to play for.