LeBron James expected to get more help from Lakers’ revamped roster this season

The Lakers added depth around LeBron James to ensure he doesn’t suffer too much wear and tear in his 21st season.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — LeBron James is once again in the gym at dawn, putting in long hours and getting ready to start his 21st NBA season.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka believes he has assembled a roster that will allow the NBA’s all-time leading scorer to rest a little easier this year.

“I think we’re very focused on diversity and depth on this roster,” Pelinka said Thursday. “I think there’s an upgrade from top to bottom, spacing and shooting. It’s all about knowing that LeBron is going to be in his 21st. It’s done given the circumstances of the year. We’ve got to work with him and help him get all the way to the end because that’s his goal. Adding depth, versatility, shooting, all those things are going to help us do that.”

In fact, the Lakers have retained much of last season’s roster and added several promising players in an effort to build a complete contender around James and Anthony Davis, who will lead their teammates back to practice next week camp. After watching his team go 18-8 after the trade deadline, winning a play-in game and two playoff rounds, Pelinka wants to see what this team can do in a full year. Something.

With mid-season additions of D’Angelo Russell, Jared Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura as well as five new and veteran players, the Lakers appear to have their strongest team since raising their last championship banner at the end of 2020. line-up.

“From top to bottom, we feel like this is a highly balanced, skilled, athletic, young team that’s getting a lot of NBA minutes,” coach Darvin Ham said. “We can surround (James) and AD with these guys who are eager to contribute, eager to prove that they can impact wins. That will allow us to utilize (James’) minutes more efficiently each game. … He complied with the rest. rules. “I’m happy to see that. “

In fact, James is one of a handful of seasoned NBA veterans who receive special rest exemptions under the league’s new player participation policy, which is designed to force teams to play more games with their top players. But both Pelinka and Ham have expressed support for the policy, and they don’t expect James or Davis to miss many games when healthy, which has never happened in recent seasons.

“Now the team around (James), the pieces we have in place, these guys are going to step up early and do a lot of the heavy lifting,” Hamm said.

Los Angeles retained Davis, Russell, Austin Reeves, Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura from last season’s Western Conference finalists, while acquiring Jaxson Hayes and Taurean Prince. , Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish and Christian Wood.

The Lakers’ largest financial commitment is a three-year, $186 million contract extension with Davis, a talented big man who has excelled in Los Angeles without injury.

“He’s only 30, so he’s got a long road ahead of him in terms of how to lead the team and hopefully put up more banners here,” Ham said. “I’m excited for the year he’s going to have.”

Pelinka said the Lakers are eager to bet on their big man.

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