Carmelo Anthony was being partially facetious earlier this summer when he said that LeBron James was the GM of the Los Angeles Lakers, but there was also some substance behind his tongue-in-cheek crack. James, like most NBA superstars, wields a ton of power within the organization he blesses with his services, and like the team does with most decisions, Frank Vogel says that James — and fellow team captain Anthony Davis — will get to weigh in on who starts alongside them and Russell Westbrook on opening night.
Consulting James and Davis on the team’s decisions is something the Lakers have long admitted they do, but after the team’s Friday practice, Vogel also said that he and those two stars won’t be the only ones weighing in on this particular choice.
“We’ll have conversations, both with the coaching staff, the front office and with our captains, and see what everybody is feeling about it,” Vogel said.
Vogel has maintained all training camp that the team has not made a final decision on the other two starting spots, and that they may go “big” with a center alongside Davis — a grouping he prefers to refer to as a “hybrid” lineup because he still plans to play Davis at least half his minutes at center regardless of who starts next to him — and that they may start Davis at center, something Davis indicated was in the offing at media day.
But injuries may have changed that calculus, and the team has openly flirted with starting a center alongside Davis throughout the preseason. Vogel said prior to Thursday’s exhibition finale that he still wasn’t sure if Davis, DeAndre Jordan or Dwight Howard would start at the 5, a tone he tried to maintain at practice on Friday amidst a potentially Freudian slip.
“Obviously it’s two really good...” Vogel said, catching himself and trying to course correct mid-sentence. “More than two really good situations for how we build our starting lineup, and we feel good about all of them. It’s just about what we’re going to land on.”
Consulting their two most important players on that calculus, as well as the more-removed front office, does make some degree of sense, then, especially because the team wants to find a group they can stick with. Vogel has said throughout camp that he doesn’t want to constantly be changing up his starters like injuries forced him to last season, something he reiterated on Friday.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we’re changing too often, so hopefully we can have success with whatever way we choose to begin with and stick with that,” Vogel said.
We’ll find out who the team’s brain trust of stars, coaches and executives lands on when the team opens the season on Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors.