Walton taking long view on LeBron’s playing time

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton is playing the long game by trying to reduce the length of time LeBron James stays on the basketball court this season.

“We’ve got four years,” Walton said Wednesday on the eve of the Lakers’ season opener on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Walton, of course, was referencing the contract James signed this summer to come to L.A. (three years guaranteed, with a player option for the fourth). He contends he isn’t about to burn out James, who turns 34 in December, this season when the Lakers hope to enter a championship window further into James’ tenure with the team.

“We want to make sure we’re not only playing at our best come the end of the season but that he’s fresh,” Walton said. “And that’s a goal for us. And it’s a goal that we’re on a journey and it’s not a one-year journey. We’re continuing to try to and be our best season by season, but also as each one goes on.

“And obviously he gives us the best opportunity to be at our best.”

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