LeBron James end of season press conference on what the Lakers need
The Lakers’ star man spoke to the press about what changes he thinks the franchise needs after failing to reach the playoffs despite being one of the favorites for the title.
LeBron James anticipates changes in the offseason after the Los Angeles Lakers missed the playoffs for the seventh time in the past nine seasons. At an end of season press conference on Monday, James said it’s natural to begin the offseason thinking about what adjustments might be necessary to get the Lakers back to the NBA Finals.
James thinking about Lakers’ roster changes
James said he’s mulling any “roster that can bring more wins” in 2022-23. The 37-year-old said he respects Frank Vogel, however the head coach was fired by the Lakers not long after the press conference, with Nick Nurse allegedly being lined up to replace him.
“I respect Frank as a coach and as a man. He’s a man who gives everything to the game,” James said. “At the end of the day I don’t know what’s going to happen with Frank and him being here, but I have nothing but respect for him.”
James averaged 30.3 points per game, becoming the first player to improve his career scoring average from the previous year (27.1 points) in his 19th season. And he scored 30-plus points 34 times, easily setting another NBA record for a player in his 19th season.
He’s eligible for a contract extension with the Lakers this summer but said Monday he hasn’t had a conversation with the team about that deal.
Lakers go from title to missing out
The Lakers won the 2020 NBA title in the “bubble” in Florida. All-Star teammate Anthony Davis said Sunday night he believes the duo can remain the center of a championship team, but admitted there is a need to understand what has changed for the team since the title. James concurred, pointing to health and the inability to keep the team’s stars on the court as the reason for the 2021-22 disappointments.
Davis played 40 games after just 36 games played in 2020-21 and a veteran roster assembled around the star nucleus was unable to pick up the slack.
“The reason we were not very good together is we weren’t on the damn floor together. That’s the No. 1 damn thing,” Davis said.
James says he’ll leave roster changes to the front office
Roundly critiqued for pushing the Lakers to pursue Russell Westbrook, and reportedly discouraging the signing of DeMar DeRozan in free agency, James claimed his focus will be on getting ready for training camp.
“I think the front office will do whatever it takes to win,” he said, adding he’ll share his opinion if the team asks for it.
General manager Rob Pelinka said all accountability for personnel decisions rests with him, and he plans to change the tune prior to next season.
“We had a very disappointing season. That will not be the case next year,” Pelinka said.
Pelinka feels comfortable that James wants to remain with the Lakers. During All-Star weekend, James sparked speculation he could be considering another relocation when he praised the city of Cleveland and said "the door isn't closed" on playing for the Cavs again someday.
“Every indication that we’ve received is he sees the Lakers as his home,” Pelinka said.
James’ move to the Lakers
James, 37, left Cleveland in 2018 to sign with the Lakers. He was blunt Monday in his assessment of the move.
“I came here to win a championship. I came here to win more,” James said.
And though he ended the season idle due to an ankle injury and was told to rest for 4-6 weeks, retirement is not one of the options on the table for James. He said there is no cap on how much longer he wants to play.
“I can still produce at a high level, as I showed this year,” he said.
Pelinka agrees, but didn't show his hand regarding the makeup of the team around James. For that reason, James said he will prepare as if he needs to play any of the five positions on the court for Los Angeles.
“He feels highly motivated to return next year and have another elite year,” Pelinka said. “For him to play that way in Year 19 is jaw-dropping.”