Paul Pierce Sends Strong Message to Lakers Ahead of New Season

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers might have some star power, but they’re not expected to be a championship-caliber team in the upcoming season, at least, not with their current roster construction.

On a September 21 episode of KG Certified, Boston Celtics legend, Paul Pierce shared his thoughts on the Lakers’ chances of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy next summer – noting that the team is over-reliant on the greatness of LeBron James.

“I’m not seeing the Lakers as a legit contender. For one, LeBron is a year older. Yeah, he averaged 30, but how much longer can he do that? And now you’re gonna put that pressure on him at the age of 37, 38 to go out there and help carry AD…AD, he can’t stay healthy. But then who are the other moving pieces? Who are your role players?” Pierce said when discussing the upcoming season with fellow Celtics legend, Kevin Garnett.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, their two best players were incapable of remaining healthy last season, with Anthony Davis participating in just 40 games and LeBron James in 56 games – leading to Los Angeles failing to make the playoff’s as their top-heavy roster struggled to find any rhtyhm while dealing with a slew of injury problems.

Sure, the Lakers look to be slightly deeper heading into the new season, but there are still significant holes in their roster construction that only a healthy superstar trio can paper over.

Lakers Move on From Indiana Pacers Trade Talks

One way in which the Lakers could improve their roster, depth, and perimeter shooting issues, is by making a trade that fulfills some of those shortcomings. However, according to a September 22 report by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who was appearing on an episode of The Rally, Los Angeles has stepped away from trade talks with the Indiana Pacers due to their insistance on multiple first-round draft picks being part of any trade package.

“The two first-round pick price is just not appealing for the Lakers, and right now, they’re going to be very prudent with the approach they’re going to take. There’s a long runway with Russell Westbrook, they can see how this team starts, they have until the trade deadline, he is on an expiring contract.

And the Lakers mindset, I’m told, they realize this is a significant bullet that they’re going to have to use. When you look at two unprotected first-round picks, they have to time out when exactly it makes sense to make a trade. Right now, a package of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner is not what they’re willing to trade two first-round picks for,” Charania explained.

So, according to Charania’s latest report, the Lakers are happy to move forward with the current roster they have in place, and will only look to strike a deal if results fail to materialize in the coming months. Given that the trade deadline isn’t until February, this train of thought could be a prudent approach by Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office.

Lakers Expected to Get Creative With Rotations

Darvin Ham, in his first year as a head coach, has inherited an unbalanced roster, primarily comprised on defensive players and interior scorers, with some playmakers thrown in for good measure. As such, it would seem that the Lakers coaching staff are considering some experimental line-ups to begin the year.

In a September 18 edition of Marc Stein’s Steinline Newsletter, the long-time NBA reported noted how the Lakers are contemplating moving recently acquired guard, Patrick Beverley, into a role on the wing, with the six-foot-one defensive menace seen as a potential small forward for the upcoming season.

“With Westbrook poised to remain a Laker when new coach Darvin Ham opens his first training camp as L.A.’s new coach, sources say Beverley is regarded internally by the club as a 3-and-D wing and not as a point guard at this stage of his career. The Lakers, in other words, see Westbrook and Schröder as their point guards as of Sept. 18 … and the likes of Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves, and Lonnie Walker IV as 2s and 3s,” Stein revealed in his September 18 newsletter. 

It will certainly be interesting to see how the Lakers line-up to begin the season, and what role they ask some of their rotational players to fill, but rest assured, if Beverley is expected to spend significant time as a small forward, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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