LeBron James Repeating Lakers Team-Building Gambit From 2020: Report

LeBron James, Lakers

Getty LeBron James, Lakers

Hey, it worked in 2019. So it’s probably wide of Lakers star LeBron James to give it another crack this time around.

Two years ago, after the Lakers traded a raft of young player and picks to New Orleans for Anthony Davis, LeBron James put together a weekend minicamp in Las Vegas for his teammates to get acclimated to each other. After a raucous offseason of change, James has arranged a similar three-day trip to begin this Friday, according to reporter Shams Charania.

NBA media day is next Tuesday, signaling the start of training camp.

As Charania reported: “James hosted a similar team function in 2019, the same year the team won the 2020 NBA championship. The Lakers had acquired Anthony Davis in 2019 and were integrating him to the roster. This offseason, in similar fashion, the Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook and will now use this weekend as a catapult ahead of the upcoming NBA season.”

Only 3 Lakers Remain From Last Season

Of course, the Lakers did a lot more this offseason than simply add Westbrook, who arrived via trade with Washington for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the team’s 2021 first-round pick.

That was the most sensational of the team’s move, but it was only part of a systematic dismantling of last year’s roster, which put together a disappointing 42-30 record and was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

In all, the Lakers have kept only three players from last year’s squad: James, Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker.

The team added more big names like Carmelo Anthony and DeAndre Jordan, as well as 2020 championship alums Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo to bring depth and experience to the team. But surprise additions—shooting guards Wayne Ellington, Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn, forwards Kent Bazemore and Trevor Ariza—give the team an exceptional depth of experience.

As Miami Heat star Duncan Robinson summed up this week on his podcast, The Long Shot, “I don’t know if it’s necessarily ‘best’ because I think time will tell. But the most intriguing offseason in my opinion is out West, with the Lakers. The collection of talent and experience they’ve gathered there is truly unique when you look across the league, the average age being, I think, around 32 years old. It is going to be really interesting to see how those pieces come together.”

Vogel Expects Lakers’ Big 3 to Sacrifice

That will be the big question, and the one James is undoubtedly trying to get a head start on addressing. In his past two seasons, Westbrook has been paired with James Harden in Houston and Bradley Beal in Washington, and in both places, the team results were disappointing (Houston was eliminated in the second round in the 2020 playoffs, Washington lost in the first round last year).

Going back to his time teaming up with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, Westbrook has a reputation of being difficult to play with for other star players. Lakers coach Frank Vogel addressed the idea of James, Davis and Westbrook needing to sacrifice for the good of the team.

“I think anytime you have three great players like this there is an element of sacrifice required and we’ve all talked about that and are all-in on that,” Vogel said at Westbrook’s introductory press conference last month. “But these three guys can do it all and what I love about our group, Bron, AD and Russ, is they’re all make-the-right-play players, you know what I mean. It’s not just about scoring or being a one-dimensional player. They can all do it all, so I’m most excited about seeing what the three of them on the court at the same time looks like.”



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