On Wednesday, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel pretended like he couldn’t answer questions about specific players because of privacy concerns. On Thursday, he revealed that such a distinction only applies to players that the team is trying to hide are not in Orlando, because he was more than happy to wax poetic about star forward LeBron James.
“Outstanding,” Vogel said on a Zoom call with the media when asked how James looks in the team’s practices so far. “It’s really remarkable how well he’s been able to stay in shape. Stay ready. To be sharp. It’s as if there wasn’t a layoff at all, and he’s playing at a really high level.”
Still, that doesn’t mean that the Lakers aren’t going to be cautious with their 35-year-old star, as well as his co-star, Anthony Davis. Vogel is planning to have them scrimmage as a team on Saturday and then have the day off on Sunday as they continue to prepare for the season.
The next step in that process will come the following week, when the Lakers play three scrimmages against the Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic in the span of five days. Vogel said it’s “unlikely” that James and Davis will suit up for all three.
“But it’s not been decided yet. There’s a chance they do,” Vogel said.
If James and Davis do sit out for a game or two, expect rookie Talen Horton-Tucker and two-way players Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok to get at least a bit of playing time, as the Lakers will already be missing Rajon Rondo and (likely) Markieff Morris, who has still not arrived in Orlando yet due to “an excused absence,” and at this point may not be able to clear quarantine before those scrimmages if he doesn’t get to Disney World soon. We would also likely get an extended look at new additions Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith, the former of whom said the aforementioned kids are looking good.
The Lakers will play their first of three scrimmages against another team on Thursday, July 23 at 4:00 p.m. PST, and will later kick off their eight seeding round games with a matchup against the LA Clippers on Thursday, July 30. All of their games will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet. Just don’t necessarily tune in expecting to see both of their stars in every single one.