The Los Angeles Lakers finally got their big free-agent fish this offseason when they signed LeBron James to a four-year, 153.3 million deal. Now, they are tasked with figuring out how to best strategically deploy King James.
After agreeing to term with the 33-year-old star, the Lakers turned around and signed a number of veterans — Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo — who don’t exactly fit the mold of the modern NBA.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka noted the Lakers’ signings were done with an eye on taking down the defending champion Golden State Warriors by putting out a versatile, defensive-minded team. Pelinka claims the Lakers aren’t planning on trying to beat the Warriors at their own game, but when it comes to offensive strategy, LA might be taking a page out of Steve Kerr’s playbook.
Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported Thursday, citing two Lakers sources, that LA will look into playing the King at center in their own version of the “death lineup.”
“We may not see this on day one, but the coaching staff is eager to see our version of the (Warriors’) Death Lineup with Lonzo (Ball), Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, (Kyle) Kuzma and LeBron,” a Lakers executive told Pincus.
Those five players undoubtedly will be the Lakers’ crunchtime five, and with the team’s lack of center depth, it wouldn’t be surprising to see James playing center.
But at age 33, James has taken a step back defensively, so he probably won’t play at the five for long stretches. For a five-minute burst, though, LA’s “death lineup” could be a difficult lineup to defend.
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