After agreeing to terms with LeBron James on a four-year contract, the Los Angeles Lakers quickly moved to fill out their roster by adding veterans Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley to the fold.
The signings struck many as curious, not only because of the large personalities but also for a perceived lack of shooting. Teams that James has previously led all shared the commonality of floor spacers being featured on the roster.
Also of note was the signing of Rondo, who has been a starter essentially his entire career. The Lakers of course drafted who they championed as their franchise point guard in Lonzo Ball just last year.
When discussing the team’s signings, general manager Rob Pelinka raised some eyebrows when he said head coach Luke Walton would hold an open competition for each of the four starting spots around James.
During an event hosted by ESPN L.A. Radio, Walton explained the idea behind players competing and how it won’t necessarily result in a top performer automatically starting:
“To me, competition brings out the best in people, right? That doesn’t necessarily mean whatever player outplays the guy is going to be the starter, because it’s still about building units and teams. Remember, Lamar Odom coming off the bench for us. He was clearly one of our best players. … He was part of that second unit. Now, he would finish games off with the starters. Those decisions will still be made as far as what groups are playing the best together. … But, yeah, it’s open competition. To me, that brings out the best in each other and ultimately that brings out the best in our team as a whole.”
On the surface, the backcourt is where the Lakers face the most questions. Ball or Rondo starting is a plausible scenario, and so too is Josh Hart pushing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Hart earned Las Vegas Summer League MVP honors and has drawn endless praise for his growth.
Brandon Ingram figures to start alongside James at the forward position, and McGee presumably will man center. Regardless of how the starting spots unfold, the Lakers undeniably have assembled a deep and versatile roster.
It’s just the type of group the front office believes could have the attributes necessary to knock off the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.