LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to bounce back from an abysmal 2021-22 NBA season.
It was a season that saw Anthony Davis appear in just 40 games due to a foot injury, Russell Westbrook struggle to lift the team’s offense and the Lakers miss the Western Conference playoffs after going just 33-49.
Head coach Frank Vogel was the first individual to get the boot, with the Lakers firing him after the regular season. They eventually hired former Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham as head coach.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that James, agent Rich Paul, Ham and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka recently met to discuss the 2022-23 season. Hayes noted that James emphasized “consistent competitiveness and cohesion.”
He also noted that James and Ham saw eye-to-eye, and that they “concurred” on the idea of running the team’s offense through Davis.
“Ham agreed with James and reiterated that his main objectives are to hold everyone accountable and foster an atmosphere of selflessness, sources said. He voiced that defensive tenacity needs to be picked up all across the roster and also forewarned that players would have to play new roles, and if he sensed reluctance, he wouldn’t hesitate to remove them from the game, sources said.”
Pelinka reportedly explained how “patience” will be key in any move the Lakers make. Los Angeles traded Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft to the Washington Wizards for Westbrook and two second-round draft picks last offseason.
News of the meeting led Colin Cowherd to question what it all meant for Westbrook, and he explained on “The Herd.”
Lakers offense reportedly running through AD
LeBron James and agent Rich Paul reportedly met with the Los Angeles Lakers front office and new head coach Darvin Ham, agreeing on four goals: consistent cohesion, atmosphere of selflessness, new roles for players and the offense running through Anthony Davis. This brings up questions about Russell Westbrook’s fit in the new game plan, Colin Cowherd says.
“The four or five agreements, according to LeBron, his agent, the president and the coach, were all things that Westbrook has to work on,” Cowherd said. “Westbrook has a new agent, he wasn’t in the meeting. AD wasn’t either, but his agent was. This is an example of getting something out so that Russell Westbrook and his agent see it.”
James, Davis and Westbrook account for roughly $130 million in payroll for the 2022-23 season. The earliest first-round draft pick the Lakers can trade is its 2027 first-rounder due to the Stepien rule. The Lakers lost Malik Monk to free agency while adding Lonnie Walker, Thomas Bryant, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Troy Brown and Damian Jones.
James, 37, is entering his 20th season in the NBA and fifth season with the Lakers. He’s eligible to sign a two-year, $97 million extension. James averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 52.4%/35.9%/75.6% last season.
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