LeBron James says he doesn't know what Lakers can be
The Lakers icon has definitely been keeping his end of the bargain with big performances across a stretch of games, but he isn't sure about his teams' ability to do the same at this moment.
As the questions about the team intensify, the Lakers' icon admits that even he doesn't know what the future holds for them
LeBron James doesn't know
At this stage in the season the Los Angeles Lakers have many people scratching their heads. With a star studded roster, it seems unbelievable that the Lakers find themselves on a record of 16-16. What's more? Their last game was a 108-88 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. Needless to say there has been a lot of speculation about what exactly is 'wrong' with Los Angeles this season, something which star LeBron James himself has not been able to put his finger on. "We don't know," James said. "We have no idea what this team can be."
James for his part has put in eight 30-point performances in the Lakers last 12 games. Yet, the reality is he was sidelined for 12 games. There was also Trevor Ariza whose injury saw him absent for the first 30 games and of course Kendrick Nunn who has been unable to participate in the season so far. Then there is the recent MCL sprain suffered by Anthony Davis who will now be out for a minimum of a month and last but not least, head coach Frank Vogel, who was placed in health and safety protocols having tested positive for covid-19. To say the Lakers are having a bad time, would be kind.
"So how can we really fully assess what we have when we haven't been whole? I can't remember the last time we played the same starting lineup and had the same rotation coming off the bench," James said. "It's been a long time. So, it's hard to assess that."
The Lakers are a team in flux
While it may sound hard to believe, in their loss to the Suns the Lakers implemented their 17th version of the starting lineup for the season, meaning that approximately every two games the Lakers have altered things in the team. Some will argue that these are simply growing pains, in that the signs of things to come are already there. Against the Suns for example The Lakers were leading early on by as much as 10 points, but failed to maintain control of the game as the Suns essentially ran away with it in the 4th quarter. With the result Phoenix overtook the Golden State Warriors to hold the best record in the league with 25-5.
"Obviously, they are at full strength and we're not, so it's hard to see where we're at as a team," James said.
Lakers interim coach David Fizdale is confident
David Fizdale has been standing in as head coach while Mike Vogel goes through the process of the league's health and safety protocols. Fizdale was quick to complimente the Suns' play, however, he did say they were fortunate in a way the Lakers have not been able to enjoy."They've had a lot of continuity and they've been very lucky," Fizdale said. "That's lucky to be healthy. ... So yeah, that continuity is a big deal, and I just really feel like under our circumstances, the guys' attitude and how they've been approaching it has been fantastic. To me, that makes it easy to believe that we're going to be OK."
Speaking on LeBron James, Fizdale, who actually worked as an assistant coach with the Miami during their four straight NBA Finals and two championships, said the 36-year-old James will continue to come out on top regardless of the challenge in front of him. "The one thing about LeBron, and I don't like speaking for him, but he is not going to get wrapped up in that [negative] stuff, and neither are we," Fizdale said. "Bron is looking at all of this as just the new challenge that is in front of him. After all of these years, he just doesn't get rattled with any of it. He is not a blamer, he is not a complainer, he is not finger pointing. He is going to figure out solutions."
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LeBron James is ready and so is Russell Westbrook
Having already referred to the 2021/22 season as they biggest challenge of his career, James stated that the Lakers would need to become comfortable being uncomfortable in order to grow through their challenges. New teammate Russell Westbrook seemed to agree. "I'm very optimistic," Westbrook said. "We've been through so much as a team already and still going through it as a unit. And the best part about, for me, just, thus far, all of the ups and downs. That's an NBA season. The most important part is that we stay together. Never divide. Never panic. Never succumb to what the people on the outside of our team are saying. Just make sure that we stay close-knit and find ways to be able to stick together through whatever it is."
Where to now for the Lakers?
With some 50 games still to play in the regular season, there is no doubt quite a bit of time in which the Lakers can get themselves going. On the other hand, the time is now.
"Obviously this has been Bron's deal," Fizdale said. "Guys look to Bron to be a leader, but he and Frank have been nothing short of spectacular from the standpoint of preaching patience but also holding people accountable. It's easy to say be patient and just gloss over crap. And act like things are just all great. But it's not, and they don't act like that. They're calling people out. We're addressing the things we need to clean up, and those two are really spearheading that."