Lakers name two starters, and LeBron James 'is preparing for 21 like a rookie'

Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LOS ANGELES — The music coming through the speakers inside the Lakers' facility was upbeat. The men about to sit in front of the team backdrop, Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham, were smiling and joking as they sat down to unofficially start their team's upcoming season.

Questions about their roster were minimal. There was no foundational trade on the horizon, the ripples from the Damian Lillard-Jrue Holiday trade shaking up the league around them.

Instead, the Lakers' leaders were here Thursday, in some ways, to celebrate their summer plans, ones they executed relatively swiftly and drama-free.

Training camp opens Tuesday, one day after players will take their turns at the microphone during Monday's media day. The team will enter the season not as the favorites in the league, but certainly among them after reaching the Western Conference finals.

"If you don't have any expectations around you, you're just existing," Ham said. "I want to live. I came here for those expectations"

The excitement inside the Lakers' practice gym has been building behind closed doors over the past month as the team has gathered for offseason workouts. This past weekend, LeBron James organized a minicamp in San Diego that had perfect attendance throughout the roster.


For James, the build to the season comes after his last public appearance as a Laker had him openly questioning his basketball mortality following the Lakers' 4-0 loss to Denver in the West finals.

Pelinka, though, said he's seen James' fire re-lit this offseason.

"It's staggering for a player who has 20 years under the hood already and is preparing for 21 like he's a rookie," Pelinka said. "He's been doing 6 a.m. workouts. Probably been in our building as much as any player this offseason. Been in the weight room as much as any player. Any team LeBron's played for, it's been pretty uniform that his work sets the tone. There has been nothing but an increase in seeing that here. To me, it's let's be about it, let's not talk about it. He's definitely been about it this offseason. That really puts a spirit in our entire group to see him preparing that detailed and working that hard."

Anthony Davis has also had a strong offseason, from a widening array of training methods like boxing to buzz about an improved jumper coming out of minicamp. Earlier this summer, he re-upped with the Lakers on a $186 million extension keeping him with the organization through the 2027-28 season.


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