Pelinka, Ham Discuss Russell-Reaves Starting, Anthony Davis' Leadership, Preserving LeBron
With training camp set to open next week, GM Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham met with the media Thursday, and covered a ton of ground. After all, compared to where they were at this time last season, Pelinka especially was far more comfortable and confident answering questions about the team, and the direction in which it is headed.
To the point where he didn't have to try and talk up their title chances. Frankly, that sort of thing is assumed. This is a group that expects to contend, and isn't dependent on smoke and mirrors to make it seem possible.
That, as a starting point, is a great place to be.
From there, Pelinka spent a lot of time talking about Anthony Davis, and why the team felt comfortable investing that massive contract extension in him, despite a long track record of injury that is certainly not going to fade over the life of the contract. So what was the foundation? "Character, character, character," Pelinka said. The team believes not just in the talent, but also the person. Still, Pelinka noted that they've talked to A.D. about the investment they need him to make in the franchise. Not to imply he hasn't bought in to this point, but the post LeBron Era is coming, and they've signed him to be The Man in the not-so-distant future. That's a different deal.
And regarding LeBron, Ham made it clear they have a strategy to keep him fresh at a time where the league doesn't want its stars sitting just for rest. And it involves playing him less. So basically, be good, win games, let LeBron avoid as much high leverage activity as possible.
They talked about the starting guards - no surprise, it'll be D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves. Interestingly, both expressed a great deal of confidence in Russell, focusing much more on the positive impact he made after arriving from Minnesota at the deadline as opposed to a very, very ugly Western Conference Finals against the Nuggets.
Finally, while there won't be that much competition for starting gigs (the third forward spot is the only real question mark) there will be a TON of competition for minutes. And that is something Ham loves. But everyone, Pelinka says, will have opportunities to contribute. And in this case, he's not blowing smoke.
HOSTS: Andy and Brian Kamenetzky
SEGMENT 1: The Lakers open camp next week, and Pelinka and Ham are talking up the team.
SEGMENT 2: The investment in Davis, and protecting the investment in LeBron.
SEGMENT 3: Starting guards and the competition for playing time.
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