NBA

LeBron's Lakers will be aggressive in free agency – Pelinka

By Sports Desk November 19, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said the NBA champions are ready to be "aggressive" in free agency.

Spearheaded by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers claimed their first title since 2010 after topping the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals last month.

The drought-ending success at Walt Disney World Resort sparked celebrations but attention has already turned to 2020-21, with the season due to get underway before Christmas next month.

Dennis Schroder has already been acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Danny Green, and Pelinka insisted the Lakers are not prepared to rest on their laurels in pursuit of sustained success.

"Our approach will be to be aggressive," Pelinka, whose Lakers tied the longest postseason drought in NBA history that a tea mended by winning the title – matching the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers, said on Thursday. "I think there's a handful of teams that probably hope to contend or be in a position to contend.

"We're not going to just sit back and not expect others who are in position to try to better their roster or better their teams. So we have to stay aggressive.

"I think the danger of winning is complacency, and I won't -- we won't allow that to creep in here. We're going to try to improve our team and put head coach [Frank] Vogel and his staff in the best possible position to defend."

It remains to be seen whether JaVale McGee and Avery Bradley will exercise their player options to stay next season, while the future of star Davis is dominating headlines.

Davis – a blockbuster acquisition from the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of 2019-20 – reportedly opted out of the final year of his contract, though the championship winner is tipped to re-sign with the Lakers.

The seven-time All-Star, who has been linked with hometown team the Chicago Bulls, averaged 26.1 points, 9.3 points and 3.2 assists per game last season.

James, meanwhile, is under contract, along with the likes of Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kyle Kuzma – who is eligible for an extension.

"When the time is right, we'll sit down and speak with them," said Pelinka. "But we're proud of drafting Kuz. We're incredibly proud of his growth as a player. I think he showed in the bubble his ability to play at the wing and the four -- so some three and some four.

"When you lose a defender and a wing player like Danny Green, I think Kyle, we're going to count on him to step in and play some of that wing role as well. But he has the versatility to do it. So he's been a great, great player for us and I would expect that he will continue to grow next season."

The new season is fast approaching and Pelinka added: "That'll just be a balancing act throughout the season. Recognising that there was an extremely short layoff between championship and the start of the season.

"Kind of figuring out what's best for LeBron, what's best for his health, the team's health, what's best for the league and kind of walking that carefully and thoughtfully throughout the year."

James appeared in 67 of the Lakers' 71 regular-season games before adding a fourth NBA ring to his collection and a fourth Finals MVP.

The 35-year-old averaged 25.3 points, 10.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game in 2019-20.

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