For weeks, this online community and the media in general have been engulfed in speculation and rumors about what the Lakers need to add to their roster, who they might trade for, or what they might do on the buyout market.
One person who isn’t caught up in all that, though? LeBron James, who said at the first practice following the All-Star break on Thursday that he trusts the team’s roster as-is.
“I’m not in the mind frame of what needs to happen as far as our roster. For us, what needs to happen is we need to play better basketball with the group that we’ve got,” James said. “I believe in every guy that’s in our locker room and every guy that hits the floor on any given night.”
Now, one would be justified in rolling their eyes at me for taking that at face value. After all, doesn’t James have to say that about his teammates?
Well, as longtime James followers are aware... Not really. For context, here is what he said about the 2016-17 Cleveland Cavaliers when he wasn’t happy with their play during the last season where he was trying to repeat:
“We’re not better than last year. From a personnel standpoint... The f---ing grind of the regular season. We’re a top-heavy team. We have a top-heavy team. We top-heavy as s---. It’s me, [Kyrie Irving], [Kevin Love]. It’s top-heavy... We need a f---ing playmaker... I’m not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn’t say that... I’m not singling out anybody. I’m not. Yeah, we won [the championship], but f---, you know what, let’s see if we can do something.”
So yeah. If James was unhappy with what the Lakers had while trying to defend their own title, it’s a fair bet he’d let us know.
That noted, James is more than aware that this team has a chance to get better. He just appears to have faith that the front office will do so without him sounding off at them through the media.
“Obviously throughout the course of the season there’s an opportunity for your team to get better through trades, or guys getting bought out,” James said on Thursday. “You assess that then, but I don’t really think about it right now in my career. I love what we have, and obviously we’ve had some injuries — with the big one being Big B-day, my brother AD [Anthony Davis] and we’ve had some other things as well — but I believe when we’re whole and we’re full we can compete with anyone in the world.”
With the March 25 trade deadline now less than two weeks away, we’ll see if general manager Rob Pelinka and his front office feel the same. At the very least, with one or two roster spots depending on if they keep Damian Jones beyond his second 10-day contract, they’re going to make some moves.
Just don’t expect James to come out and demand them publicly.