Years of rebuilding paid off for the Los Angeles Lakers this summer when LeBron James agreed to a four-year, $153 million contract. Although his addition and that of others does not signal the franchise becoming championship contenders just yet, the Lakers are headed down the right path.
Adding a player of James’ caliber to the fold brings expected change. Perhaps none more so than on the court, and it’s that juggling act head coach Luke Walton will need to sort out. “We’ll change some things,” he acknowledged.
“As far as how much, it’s too early to determine. There’s some things you don’t change, and that’s what builds your culture, who we are as an organization. But the style of play changes. You should change it depending on your personnel, so we’ll take a deep dive into all the new guys and see what’s best for the group we have.”
While Walton isn’t quite sure how that will ultimately unfold, one adjustment he anticipates is allowing James to essentially serve as the primary ball handler. “We’re going to have the ball in LeBron’s hands a lot,” Walton said.
This past season the Lakers took a more egalitarian approach, with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and even Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma seeing opportunities to run the offense. In some cases that was out of necessity because of injuries.
“I envision everyone making plays,” Walton maintained. “But [James is] going to have the ball a lot during a game.”
The Lakers don’t figure to lack options, as incumbents Ball, Hart and Ingram are joined by Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson in addition to James. That Walton will have an array of options at his disposal is viewed as a luxury rather than potential headache.
“The more decision makers, the better. As long as they’re willing to play the unselfish style of basketball that we want to play,” Walton said. “I think we have a lot of guys that are willing to do that. We’ll try all sorts of different lineups as we go.”
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