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Lakers preview: Five questions to consider as training camp opens

Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

Everyone will be excited. They'll exude confidence. They'll talk about righting wrongs. The tone at media days around the NBA is almost always identical, with everyone looking forward.

But things went so badly for the Lakers last season that it's hard to drum up any significant optimism for a team that finished in 11th last season and didn't pull off a big offseason move outside of a new head coach.

Still, there's plenty of star power, plenty of drama and plenty of questions on the table for Monday's media day. Here are the five biggest:

So, what's the deal with Russ?

Russell Westbrook opening camp with the Lakers would've probably been viewed as an upset at the start of the offseason, but his contract combined with the Lakers' lack of draft picks and a so-so group of tradeable players has the team ready to try to make it work with the future Hall of Fame guard — at least for now.

Westbrook attended the player-organized mini-camp in San Diego and has been the most visible Laker this summer, showing up for Darvin Ham's introductory news conference, summer league in Las Vegas and Patrick Beverley's introduction with the Lakers. All of this happened while the Lakers were looking at options for shipping Westbrook out of town.

 

One of those options — to Utah — vaporized last week when the Jazz dealt forward Bojan Bogdanovic to Detroit. The Lakers, said people with knowledge of the situation who weren't authorized to speak publicly, were willing to include a first-round pick in a trade for the shooter, but the team continued to balk at taking on long-term contracts — a sign that maintaining salary-cap space next summer remains one of the top priorities. The Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs conceivably could be trade partners, but there doesn't seem to be a deal that works for both teams in either scenario, though that could change.

It means the Lakers are going to roll forward with Westbrook, hoping Ham, a second season of familiarity, the fallout from a soft trade market and more can make things fit better than they did a year ago, when they couldn't have fit much worse.

How does Westbrook feel about being back with a team that traded for and signed starting-level point guards in the last month in Patrick Beverley and Dennis Schroder? Can't wait to hear.

Can LeBron keep going?

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