Eligible for a contract extension, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James met with general manager Rob Pelinka and new head coach Darvin Ham recently. While the group, which included Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, discussed contract matters, the meeting also included several other topics.
In a recent article, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports revealed several of these topics, and how the two sides plan to address them. Amongst these were Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and last year’s disastrous season. With a new head coach in place, both James and the Lakers are hopeful that this upcoming season will prove much more successful than last year.
Having battled injuries since coming to the Lakers, Anthony Davis has been unable to truly build upon his historically great run in the 2020 playoffs. According to Haynes, the Lakers are currently encouraged with Davis’ offseason progression, leading them to believe he’ll be able to avoid serious injury next season. Because of this, both Darvin Ham and LeBron James agreed that the team would run their offense through Davis this upcoming season.
This is not an entirely new game plan, as the Lakers have attempted this strategy at times during the last two seasons; however, with Davis struggling to stay on the floor, LeBron has ended up taking on a bigger responsibility than initially anticipated. As the superstar forward ages, albeit gracefully, the Lakers are attempting to limit his responsibility by utilizing Davis more.
While the Lakers have been adamantly searching for trade partners willing to absorb the last year of Russell Westbrook’s contract, it seems as if the veteran point guard will be back on the roster next season. Because of this, in order to avoid a repeat of last season, the Lakers are hoping Westbrook can adapt to a new role.
According to Chris Haynes, the Lakers are hopeful that Westbrook can improve his corner three-point shooting next season. While Westbrook actually shot 45.1% from the corners last season, the impressive clip was on just 0.7 attempts per game, so perhaps the Lakers want the corner three to become a bigger part of Westbrook’s game next season.
Turning around last season’s disaster
Having not made any significant roster upgrades from last year’s team that missed the playoffs, the Lakers must figure out how to avoid a repeat of last season. This was also reportedly addressed in LeBron’s meeting with the Lakers, when the two sides discussed new roles for several players on the team.
“Ham agreed with James and reiterated that his main objectives are to hold everyone accountable and foster an atmosphere of selflessness,” Haynes wrote. “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.”
If each of these elements come together as James and the Lakers envision, the team could re-enter the playoff chase. That said, the Western Conference continues to get better, and the Lakers are still seemingly a tier below the competition.