Lakers ‘feel good’ about LeBron’s health (AD)

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Dave McMenaminESPN Staff WriterJuly 10, 2023 at 8:36 AM4 minute read

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LAS VEGAS — As impactful as the Los Angeles Lakers hope a new free-agent deal will be next season, the most important event so far this offseason has been LeBron James. and the health of two returning stars, Anthony Davis.

Both recovered from foot ailments and played last season, according to Lakers vice president and general manager of basketball operations Rob Pelinka.

“We’re happy with the offseason and how the AD and LeBron are being treated,” Pelinka said Sunday at halftime of the Lakers’ summer league game against the Charlotte Hornets. “The good reports are all about these injuries in that the players have been able to get through them.”

James missed 13 straight games from late February to late March due to a torn tendon in his right leg. He was able to finish the regular season and helped lead Los Angeles to the Western Conference Finals, but his lift and explosiveness were limited in the playoffs.

The four-time MVP is entering his 21st season and will turn 39 in December.

After LA’s Game 4 loss to the Denver Nuggets, he told ESPN he will have an MRI on his leg and may have surgery in the summer to fix the injury.

Meanwhile, Davis missed 20 straight games from mid-December to late January with a bone spur in his right leg and a stress reaction. Like James, he played every game in LA’s postseason run.

The 11-year veteran is eligible to sign a three-year, $167 million contract extension starting Aug. 4. Davis and James have two years left on their contracts with the Lakers, and both have player options for 2024-25.

Pelinka declined to discuss the Lakers’ Davis extension plan next month, citing labor agreements.

“I wish the CBA would have let me talk about the negotiations…but they have pretty strict rules about that,” Pelinka said. “So I can’t really talk about contracts and negotiations, but as a Lakers and as a player, I can’t rate Anthony Davis higher. He brought championships to our franchise. .”

“He’s a great captain and leader. Last year, he showed a willingness to play through a serious foot injury to take the team to the Western Conference Finals. So it’s really great to have him as part of the team. I am glad.”

However, Pelinka said he is in contact with Davis about building the Lakers’ roster.

Los Angeles hoped to play 7-foot, 220-pound center in the lineup at No. 4 with Davis in the same way Davis played with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee at center, along with Jackson Hayes. Signed a one-year minimum contract. Road to the title in 2020.

“In my opinion [of] Jackson is a lot like Dwight Howard in that stretch for us, big body, rim protectors, active rollers,” Pelinka said.

Pelinka also referenced Hayes’ 2021 arrest when police responded to a domestic disturbance call. In June 2022, Hayes was sentenced to three years of probation, 450 hours of community service, and one year of weekly communal service for failing to challenge the misdemeanor charges of wrongful imprisonment and resisting an officer. I was sent to a domestic violence class.

“I think the most important thing is that we take these things very seriously and go through a thorough scrutiny process,” Pelinka said. “Jackson was very sincere” [with] He apologized for handling it, got over it, and then moved on to where he would play a year or two in the NBA. It was something we felt he belonged to and that he took responsibility for it and would be a better person on the other side. “

Aside from Hayes, Pelinka said LA is “aggressively entering the market to get another big player,” suggesting the Lakers will pursue players with stretch-5 ability. bottom.

“I think it’s important to dimension the skills in that position,” Pelinka said. “So we don’t want to sign players that replicate the skills that Jackson Hayes has. So if we can diversify the big positions and have different looks, that would be nice.”

One big player who hasn’t yet signed a contract but could make a splash is Christian Wood, who played for the New Orleans Pelicans in Davis’ final season with the franchise in 2018-19.

Wood went 6-10 last season with the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 16.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 51.5% FG and 37.6% 3-pointers.

LA has two roster slots left and plans to keep one open before training camp starts.

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