NBA: New-look Lakers’ target? Go on a championship run

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Sep 28 2019 10:46 PM

The mission for LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers as training camp begins is clear -- return to respectability. Kelvin Kuo, USA Today Sports/Reuters

Six seasons have passed without the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs. The mission for the franchise as training camp begins is clear.

"We're looking forward to getting after it," new head coach Frank Vogel said at Lakers media day Friday in El Segundo, Calif. "We have the ability to win the ultimate prize."

General manager Rob Pelinka discounted the notion that the Lakers gave up too much to add to a roster with LeBron James as its centerpiece.

"When your starting point is two of the best players in the universe, that's a pretty strong starting point," Pelinka said. "We don't want to get too far ahead in what our roster stands for. We're very confident in our guys and the ability to reach the ultimate goal."

Pelinka described James as "locked in," saying he received three-way calls and text messages from James before acquiring Anthony Davis, and the input continued all the way to the end of the summer when the Lakers landed Dwight Howard.

"That's how we're doing things: Make sure we're a family of 15 people and everyone's voice matters," Pelinka said.

Pelinka said the Davis trade and subsequent moves were in part reciprocity for James putting his trust in the team as a free agent in July 2018.

And on Friday, James was giddy about playing with Davis.

"I know the caliber of player AD is, not only from a basketball standpoint by from a leadership standpoint and what he can bring to any franchise," James said of Davis. "And you know where Rob and everyone in the upstairs did what they had to do to acquire a talent and a person as AD, I mean I was obviously truly excited."

He continued: "It's exciting to have such a beautiful young mind, a beautiful player but also a great leader as well. I don't think he gets a lot of credit for that."

James averaged 27.4 points. 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in his first season with the Lakers, and was limited to 55 games. Not long after the season ended, the roster overhaul began. Pelinka changed coaches, letting go of Luke Walton, and almost entirely rebuilt the roster. Gone are Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart -- shipped to New Orleans in the Davis deal -- with newcomers including Avery Bradley, Danny Green and Quinn Cook to space the court.

Vogel said he will balance keeping veterans fresh with being balanced and versatile with his lineups.

"We're trying to win every game we play," Vogel said. "We want to win opening night. We want to win the first 10, the first 20."

The Lakers will "abide by the league's lead" in the matter involving DeMarcus Cousins, who is out for the season due to injury but was accused of domestic violence.

Pelinka did say guard Kyle Kuzma's injury is not viewed as a long-term concern. Kuzma is out indefinitely with a foot injury.

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