LeBron James Praises New Lakers Trade Deadline Additions

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

The Wednesday night NBA slate was a glimpse of what could come for the Los Angeles Lakers for the rest of the season. It wasn’t the first time that their new acquisitions suited up for the team, but it was the first time that they were joined by LeBron James on the court.

James sat out the three games following his record-breaking performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder when he became the league’s all-time leading scorer in points. Los Angeles struggled without him, but on Wednesday, they dominated the New Orleans Pelicans, 120-102.

Contributions were provided up and down the roster as the new-look Lakers performed at a high level. Los Angeles acquired D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Mo Bamba ahead of the deadline and James is happy with how things look heading into the stretch run of the season.

“I think we’re going to continue to build off tonight,” James said after the game against the Pelicans. “I think our skill sets all kind of fit each other.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

While certainly happy about the moves that were made, James did take time to acknowledge the players that were on the move to complete those deals. Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Thomas Bryant were traded away in three separate deals.

“First of all, I shout out and salute the guys that left,” James said. “Russ, Pat, JTA, DJ and Thomas. Those five guys. We all started the season together and tried to work to make some things happen and be the best that we could be out on the floor. So I salute those guys and their commitment to us trying to be as good as we could be on the floor. And right now, I mean, I like the guys that we have coming in. I mean, it’s going to take some time for us to get to know one another, but I know that they play the game at a high level.”

Still two games out of a spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament, there is plenty of work remaining for the Lakers. Defeating the Pelicans, one of the many teams ahead of them in the standings, was a good start and a step in the right direction.

“We got a lot of work to do still,” James said. “And every game is going to be tough for us, especially going down the stretch, knowing the type of push that we need to make. I want the guys to enjoy the break but don’t get 100% detached because we want to come back and try to keep this thing going.

“I feel really good about what we have brewing, but it’s going to take a lot of commitment from us going down the stretch so I’m looking forward to that.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

James spoke highly about some of the team’s acquisitions ahead of the deadline. Russell, who is making his second tour with the purple and gold, had a strong game against the Pelicans. He scored 21 points to go along with seven assists, two rebounds and one steal.

His ability to space the floor with his 3-point shooting makes him the best fit for the point guard position the Lakers have had in a few years. He knocked down 3-of-5 from 3-point range against New Orleans and has shot 37.5 percent thus far with the Lakers.

“I know D-Lo is a really good, shifty point guard,” James said about the former Lakers’ No. 2 pick, back for his second stint with the franchise. “He can space the floor. Very crafty. Very deceiving with his quickness, the way he plays the game.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

The player who may benefit the most from joining James and Anthony Davis in the lineup is Malik Beasley. His 3-point shooting prowess and ability to defend multiple positions on the wing is reminiscent of what the Lakers received from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green during their title run in 2020.

Beasley shot only 2-of-7 from long range against the Pelicans but showed how hot he can get in their previous game. Against the Portland Trail Blazers, Beasley knocked down six 3-pointers and led the team with 22 points.

“Obviously, we got a laser in Malik that we just never had this season,” James said. “A guy, whenever he’s on the floor, no matter if he’s making it or not, you have to respect him because of his ability to shoot the ball. He has kind of that JR Smith feeling to him that he can miss 10 in a row and he can make 10 in a row right after that.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: LeBron James, Anthony Davis & Los Angeles Lakers Updates

In Vanderbilt, James sees a Swiss army knife. He will be the team’s glue guy from the power forward spot, doing all of the little things and dirty work that may not show up in the box score but will lead to victories.

All of the new acquisitions will play a part in getting the Lakers back into the playoff picture. In the congested Western Conference, one winning streak could vault the team up multiple spots in the standings. With James and Davis leading the way, Los Angeles could certainly make some noise if they remain healthy and build up their chemistry.

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