Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets in the fourth quarter...

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Barclays Center on Monday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The topic of load management is not a new one for the NBA and is not going to go away anytime soon. It came up again on Monday night when the Lakers sat LeBron James against the Nets, disappointing the sellout crowd at Barclays Center.

Many of the fans had come to pay homage to The King, who is closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record. But the Lakers chose to sit James with a sore left ankle two days after he played 44 minutes in Boston.  

The Lakers visit the Knicks on Tuesday — James hasn’t played at the Garden in three years — and James’ status will be revealed at some point before the game.

Kyrie Irving, James’ former teammate who led the Nets to victory on Monday with a game-high 26 points, is an NBA union vice president. Irving said the union and the NBA are in a “figuring-out process” about how to handle the situation when a team wants to give a superstar player a night off and the crowd (or national TV audience) who wants to see that superstar player is miffed.

"I see it from both sides," Irving said. "And I have to sit in the middle and just say we have things in the works right now that we talk about. But all in all, everybody's body is different, everybody's will to play is different and everybody's desire to be out there is different. I just think those that are available to play will play and those that are not, you just got to respect their bodies and respect what they do."

Two ways to eliminate the need for load management would be to stop scheduling back-to-back games or shortening the NBA schedule. But neither seems likely.

The league announced a plan in 2019 to fine teams that sit healthy players during nationally televised games. But James has been dealing with the ankle injury, which Lakers coach Darvin Ham said before the game was causing the 38-year-old “really significant soreness.”

James has shown no indication he is planning to retire. But each time the Lakers are scheduled to visit another arena, those team’s fans want to see James play because who knows how long he’s going to be in the league. Irving addressed that reality after Monday's game.

"We gave the keys to the whole, entire business to an 18-year-old kid and now he's 38 years old and he's still dominating," Irving said. "I don't think we should be surprised. I think we should congratulate and celebrate him as much as possible. Continue to enjoy the shows that he put on because it's not going to be for too much longer.

"Whenever he decides to play [until], I'm enjoying the show. And I wish we could have gotten a chance to play against one another [on Monday], but who knows what can happen down the line?"

Simmons to miss third straight. Ben Simmons (left knee soreness) and TJ Warren (left shin contusion) will both miss Wednesday's game at Boston, the Nets announced. The team called up Kessler Edwards from its Long Island G League club.

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