You know it’s coming. With enough cushion as the No. 2 seed out east, in a conference so ugly its own mother shan’t love it, the Miami Heat will look to rest LeBron. It’s surely a matter of sooner rather than later.
As it stands, the Pacers are enough ahead of the Heat where catching up to them would require a dedicated and energy-sapping campaign. It’s been as clear as a Miami backyard pool that this season’s Heat aren’t after record supremacy. They’re good enough to be the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 team up until the playoffs without expending too much energy. The team, including LeBron, have done enough of that over the course of the last three years.
Without Dwyane Wade, who has missed four of the last six games, James has had to carry the Heat on his ample shoulders. In a year marred by an abundance of injuries, LeBron can’t be expected to keep up with the workload through the backside of the postseason without rolling the dice. Three-peats and history are at stake.
Although LeBron remains an elite – repeat that, elite – fantasy option, he might not carry the long-term worth someone like a LaMarcus Aldridge, Stephen Curry, or Kevin Durant might. Those other three, for example, are playing in conferences where positioning will be determined to the wire. They might see a game of rest here and there but not quite what LeBron will undergo, especially if Wade sees a lot more time off, which is highly likely. Those players just don’t have the luxury LeBron will have down the stretch of the season. Even assets like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who operate within a Popovich system that emphasizes rest, aren’t in the position LeBron is to miss chunks of games down the road. Doing so will come to bite them in the real-world postseason.
So, if the King happens to be on your fantasy basketball roster, it might be a good time to start convincing yourself that hawking him for some high-value assets – like the players mentioned above – might be the best strategy going forward. Sure, you run the risk of missing his contributions in your league’s playoffs but might miss them altogether if your circumstances don’t allow you to do without ‘Bron for stretches of time. If you’re smart, anyway, you’ll be able to leverage his sky-high value for two players who will provide contributions without missing a beat. Any big time name on the Heat, unfortunately, aren’t that beat.