Sources told ESPN and Yahoo Sports that the Lakers, who trail the Los Angeles Clippers by 6 1/2 games for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, will scale back James' minutes in an effort to preserve him for next season.
The 34-year-old James played 31 minutes in the Lakers' loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. Sources told Yahoo Sports that James will likely play 28 to 32 minutes each game and could sit out back-to-backs. Los Angeles has three back-to-backs remaining on its schedule.
James is averaging 35.6 minutes per game this season. He suffered a strained left groin on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors, causing him to miss the team's next 17 contests.
Los Angeles fell from the No. 4 seed in the West to out of the postseason picture following James' injury. The Lakers have lost four games in a row and eight of their last 10.
After the Lakers' loss to the Clippers on Tuesday, James indicated that a minutes restriction could be a possibility for the final month of the season, but declined to shut down his 2018-19 campaign.
"That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up," James said. "Unless I'm hurt, I'm not sitting games."