The 2022-23 season is a very important one for the Los Angeles Lakers. They are looking to turn things around after a difficult 2021-22 season which resulted in them falling woefully short of the expectations they had coming into the season. Los Angeles went 33-49, failing to even qualify for the NBA Play-In Tournament.
This offseason the biggest change that the Lakers made was firing head coach Frank Vogel and hiring Darvin Ham in his place. Ham will have his hands full when it comes to turning things around as there are a lot of issues for the franchise to overcome.
That was a big part of the discussion during the meeting that LeBron James had with the team recently. According to a source that talked to Yahoo Sports, his contract was mentioned but how to turn things around on the court was the focus of things.
“And while contract dialogue was broached, the majority of the hour-long meeting was about expressing concerns, and hearing out strategies and opinions to assure there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season’s epic failure, league sources told Yahoo Sports.”
Part of those issues stemmed from having Russell Westbrook as the team’s starting point guard. They have tried hard to amend that by discussing trade scenarios with teams around the league but thus far there has been little traction in finding a deal.
Finding a way to integrate Westbrook more successfully into the game plan is one of the things that Ham will be focused on. One thing you never question about Westbrook is his level of effort, as he brings it every night. That is hopefully something that he and James can connect on, as one of the points of discussion during the meeting was competitiveness and cohesion.
“James, sources said, drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion, noting that last season’s team didn’t give themselves a chance on many nights. The focus for the future Hall of Famer is competing every night in order to give themselves a chance to compete for a championship.
Ham agreed with James and reiterated that his main objectives are to hold everyone accountable and foster an atmosphere of selflessness, sources said. He voiced that defensive tenacity needs to be picked up all across the roster and also forewarned that players would have to play new roles and if he sensed reluctance, he wouldn’t hesitate to remove them from the game, sources said.”
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As for the cohesion, a lot of that comes down to players being healthy. James played in only 56 games last season because of a litany of injuries while Anthony Davis played in only 40. Not having them on the court made it difficult for the players to build chemistry.
That last part is likely a direct shot at Westbrook, who reportedly has been stubborn when approached with the idea of changing how he plays on the court. His stubbornness has reached a level where he fired his long-time agent Thad Foucher after 14 years of working together.
If the team can successfully address those things that James brought up in the meeting, the production should turn around on the court. However, this does still look like a team that needs some more roster moves to truly become contenders for the upcoming season.
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