-- INDIANAPOLIS -- Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said? LeBron James' heavy load through the early part of the season had nothing to do with the 14-year veteran sitting out for rest Wednesday.
James, 31, came into the night ranked sixth in the league in playing time at 37.0 minutes per game, an uptick from the career-low 35.6 minutes per game he logged last season.
At the start of training camp, Lue said he planned to "continue to limit" James' minutes this season but revealed Wednesday that the 12-time All-Star will continue to play in the 36- to 38-minute range for the time being.
"We wanted to get him low, but he said he wanted to ramp him up early and then kind of tailor him down in January, February, [around] our All-Star break," Lue said after the Cavs' 103-93 loss to the Indiana Pacers. "So right now he said he wants to be between 36 and 38 minutes a night and then around the All-Star break start tailoring them down. So he's right where he wants to be right now."
Lue said the gradual decrease in minutes to get James' body prepared for the playoffs was mutually agreed upon by James, his personal trainer Mike Mancias and the coach.
James is the oldest player ranked in the top 10 in minutes. But Toronto's Kyle Lowry is 30 (No. 1 at 38.6 minutes per game) and Dallas' Wesley Matthews is also 30 (tied for No. 4, 37.3 minutes), so James' workload is not an absurd number compared to the rest of the league.
Lue would not say how many games he planned to rest James this season or provide a definitive plan for how the team will manage him on back-to-backs moving forward.
"Just have to see," Lue said. "Have to see how we're playing at the time and how guys' minutes are at the time, and just got to gauge it from there."
Cleveland beat Toronto at home Tuesday with James posting 28 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in 38 minutes before he got the night off versus Indiana.
Lue had previously circled busy parts of the Cavs' schedule -- plenty of three-in-four obligations as well as two five-in-seven stretches -- when he would find rest for James, knowing that the three-time champion will ramp up his minutes in the postseason as he tries for a seventh straight Finals appearance.
During training camp, Lue also mentioned a desire to monitor Kyrie Irving's minutes, and thus far the sixth-year guard is playing 34.3 minutes per game, slightly above the 31.5 minutes he played last season while coming off knee surgery.
"I'm just going off what my strength and conditioning coach as well as the team and our medical staff feels is best," Irving said Wednesday. "I mean, honestly, I did come off a long summer, a long year, but for me, to establish myself as one of the [elite] guys in the league consistently, I can't use that as an excuse.
"So whenever my team needs me, whatever my team needs me to do every single night -- whether it's play 40 or play 26 minutes -- you see it varies. I mean, the other night I played 26 minutes, didn't even play the fourth quarter. Some nights it's going to be like that. When you're on a winning and championship club like this, I just adjust and just do whatever is needed."
Irving, 24, said the notion of playing time doesn't carry the same importance to him as it once did.
"S---, as long as we keep winning, man," Irving said. "All the things that used to matter probably four years ago -- getting an average and trying to stay out there and run myself into the ground -- it's not necessarily that important anymore. I know that I can be efficient whenever I'm in the game. I'm a threat any time I step out onto the floor, so I feel like our coaching staff will put us in a great position to be great out there and I'll put myself in a great position. So whatever is needed for my teammates, I'm going to do."