What did we learn from the Los Angeles Lakers 2019 Media Day?
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and new head coach Frank Vogel started Media Day.
Pelinka addressed questions about DeMarcus Cousins’ roster status since his latest injury. Pelinka said Cousins is in a domestic violence investigation with the NBA but he is still part of the team, for now.
LeBron James spoke the media for the first time since his 2019 season concluded at the end of March. JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo all talked about the difference between being on a ready contending and veteran team versus last year’s group that had young players keying on development.
New faces like Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Danny Green and Avery Bradley answered questions in their new Lakers uniform.
Here’s what else happened at Media Day.
Lakers Only Worried About Themselves
“I think our biggest opponent is in the mirror,” Pelinka told reporters during Lakers Media Day.
Pelinka said this season is about the 15 guys on the roster and what they can accomplish.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel praised the team’s roster as well.
“We have the ability to achieve the ultimate prize. We have the resume, the experience, the talent to do it. But it’s not going to happen if we don’t come together,” Vogel said about the team’s need for chemistry headed into the season.
Rajon Rondo made a similar statement when asked what team matches up best in the West.
“The Lakers,” Rondo replied simply. “If we don’t compete against each other and compete with each other, we’ll be fine.”
Veteran Jared Dudley also talked about the importance for team chemistry.
“You gotta like each other to play at a high level,” Dudley said about his new team.
Danny Green said his Champion Toronto Raptors proved last year you can develop chemistry quickly if you have the right pieces.
“It is very possible we can build chemistry very fast and still be a very special team, the last team standing.” Green added.
Still No Starting Spots Set Yet
“No decisions have been made on starting lineups,” Vogel said. “We’re going to see how things play out in camp.”
Vogel said similar statements all offseason.
However, it did appear the players had an idea about their roles. Each player acknowledged their various roles and said they’re all about winning even if it means sacrificing time.
That included LeBron who is probably the only other player besides Davis with a starting spot locked. James said the offense is running through Davis.
“If we’re not playing through Anthony Davis while he’s on the floor then it makes no sense to have him on the floor.” James said about deferring to A.D. like he did with Kyrie in Cleveland. “Because he’s that great.”
Davis said LeBron was kind for his statements when he got to the mic.
“We’re two guys who are very selfless and just want to win,” Davis said about playing with his new superstar teammate. “When you have two guys like that it makes both of our jobs a lot easier.”
Zero Internal Coaching Staff Beef
Speaking of roles, Vogel answered questions about his coaching staff including Jason Kidd who was interested in the Lakers’ head coach job this offseason too.
The Kidd and Vogel relationship is a “10 out of 10,” according to the head coach. Vogel said Kidd compliments him well and commended the former head coach for joining the Lakers with a willingness to play any role.
Pelinka also said the goal was to assemble a very experienced coaching staff. In the interview process, Kidd expressed he skipped some steps becoming a head coach so he was ready to know what it takes to be an assistant.
Dwight Howard 2.0 is Real
“I’m just happy and grateful to be back in L.A.” Dwight Howard said about his second stint in Los Angeles.
Pelinka said Howard “put his money where his mouth was” by signing a non-guaranteed minimum contract with the Lakers this offseason.
Howard said he dealt with another back surgery during the summer. That let him “isolate to elevate.” He echoed statements from the offseason by saying he took a lot of time to find out who the real him is.
Otherwise, Dwight said he is healthy and feels great. Pelinka said the same at the top of the press conference when talking about signing Howard.
Kyle Kuzma is aiming for an All-Star game
Kyle Kuzma spoke to the media shortly after it was announced he’d miss at least preseason with a foot injury suffered during his time playing for Team USA. He said he woke up one day and his foot did not feel right.
Otherwise, Kuzma said Team USA improved his confidence “a lot, a lot.” He talked highly about the experience playing internationally.
Still, Kuzma said he his goal is to become an All-Star this season. He did not see why not.
besides L.B.J. and A.D, Jared Dudley also said Kuzma is really the key for this Lakers team.
“My guy would be Kyle Kuzma.” Dudley said. “What can I do off the court to help him get to his full potential?”
Dudley talked about how he helped Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and D’Angelo Russell before their All-Star potential by sharing professional experience and preperation he learned from guys like Steve Nash during his time in Phoenix.
Anthony Davis isn’t Hollywood yet
A.D. got a question about doing more movies after Space Jam 2. Davis said that movie was a one-time thing. He described it as really time consuming even though he wanted to do it because he grew up watching the movie.
Further, Davis is still not ready to talk about a long-term commitment with the Lakers.
“I just want to focus on this year,” Davis said when asked about potential free agency after this season. “It’s about what we can do this year.”
Rondo is Everyone’s Bro
Speaking of mentorship, Avery Bradley shouted out Rajon Rondo as one of the reasons he came to Los Angeles.
“I got about four or five lil bros on this team.” Rondo said about playing with Bradley.
Bradley called him a brother dating back to the Boston days. Rondo talked about Bradley being his rookie with the Celtics too.
Rondo also shouted out DeMarcus Cousins as a reason why he came back to the Lakers. The veteran PG said he wanted to play with players ready for war and that is Boogie.
L.A. Got Shooters
When asked how Troy Daniels felt about getting his contract even before Kawhi Leonard ultimately told the Lakers no, Daniels said:
“Shooting is a premium in this league.”
Daniels talked about being ready when his number is called. The career 40 percent three-point shooter also talked about his ability to guard the point guard as an advantage to get more minutes.
“I think the team needs shooting on the court at all times,” Daniels said.
Alex Caruso said he needs to keep doing what he did well the past two seasons. That included shooting as well. He shot 45 percent from deep in a small sample last year
Jared Dudley and Quinn Cook talked about their roles as shooters too. Green (45.5% last season), Cook (41.8% career), Daniels (40.0%) and Jared Dudley (39.2%) should all upgrade the shooting at the end of the bench.
That doesn’t even include KCP returning. The point is, the Lakers have shooters this year.
LeBron James Watches Every Playoff Game
James was asked about his extended Summer since it was the first postseason he missed since early in his career.
When asked about it LeBron joked that they made it sound like watching basketball was such a bad thing. James followed by boasting he didn’t miss a single playoff game even when he was on vacation.
Frank Vogel said LeBron’s longer break is, “good news for us and bad news for the rest of the league.”
Pelinka said James looks even more focused and serious this season too.
Staples Center won the NBA Offseason
Who won the offseason?
LeBron James said it is the city of Los Angeles.
“Is it the Nets, is it the Clippers, is it the Lakers? It’s actually Staples Center. Staples Center is the biggest winner of the summer.” James told the media.
Nonetheless, USA Basketball were not winners this offseason. King James didn’t shut down playing for Team USA next year when the question was posed to him at media day. He said he is unsure if he will play because he wants to stay healthy.
However, LeBron was not happy with the team’s quarterfinals elimination in the 2019 World Cup. James added he “bleeds red, white and blue” and he would need to talk to coach Gregg Popovich about his vision for the team.
The Lakers have their first practice as a team this weekend before playing the Warriors in their first preseason matchup OCT. 5.
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