Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained his approach to working with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season.

Vogel will lead the Lakers in the upcoming NBA season after Luke Walton left Los Angeles, where it has been six successive campaigns without playoff basketball.

The Lakers have boosted their postseason and championship chances by luring Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to team up with superstar James.

Vogel knows he is facing big expectations entering his first season and in a Q&A with NBA.com, the former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach said: "Talent-wise, they're the two best players I'll ever have had the opportunity to coach. 

"That brings a lot of fun, a lot of excitement to what we're able to do on the court. It brings a lot of challenges too. You have to make sure you're managing them the right way and putting them in the right positions to feel good about their roles and what's happening around them. There are challenges involved with that. So I'm looking forward to how that all is going to play out."

Vogel replaces Walton, who parted ways with the Lakers after three seasons and just one with James.

Walton and James built a 20-14 record before the 15-time All-Star missed five weeks due to injury.

Vogel acknowledged some of the concerns that coaches have when it comes to leading James, but said he is not relying on the three-time NBA champion's past relationships with coaches to determine how the two will bond on the court.

"I only know how he's been with me. That's the only measuring stick I'm going to use," Vogel said. "I'm not going to look at how it's been with his past coaches. That really doesn't concern me. I want to shape my own opinion of him as a person and one of the greatest ever. I'm going to take my approach and work together with him to hopefully do something special."

As for Davis? Vogel explained that it will be important to determine whether the six-time All-Star plays forward or center.

"To me, he's effective in both positions. But I don't think it's wise when your mindset is to be at your best going into the playoffs, to have him banging with centers for 82 games full time," Vogel added. "Does that mean he's never going to do it in the regular season? No, of course he's going to play some center in the regular season. But we want to make sure we keep the end goal in sight and getting him to April, for that playoff run, the right way."

Vogel said despite the high expectations, he is prepared for whatever this season may bring.

"We have the pieces to compete for a championship. To have expectations that it's all going to come together immediately might be reaching a little bit," Vogel said. "I'm sure we’ll have some bumps in the road. But hopefully as these guys gel … we have a number of guys with terrific resumes, but they have to learn each other. And they'll have to learn each other quickly.

"Then we'll be in the mix for the regular season and positioning ourselves for a playoff run. You just never know how quickly that process is going to play out. So hopefully, whatever the regular season looks like, by the time you get into the playoffs you're gelling at the right time and playing your best basketball."

Antoine Griezmann says he copied team-mate Lionel Messi and NBA superstar LeBron James as he scored his first Barcelona goals in Sunday's win over Real Betis.

The France star, a €120million signing from Atletico Madrid, struck twice as the champions secured a 5-2 victory at Camp Nou.

Griezmann got his first by prodding in Sergi Roberto's cross before bending home a fine strike from the edge of the area in the second half.

Carles Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal completed Barca's scoring, with Betis' goals coming through Nabil Fekir and Loren Moron.

Griezmann celebrated his second by throwing confetti into the air and standing with arms outstretched, mimicking James' famous 'chalk toss' warm-up routine.

The forward also revealed how that goal came from watching Messi - who was in attendance but sidelined due to injury - do the same in training.

"I saw Leo do that in training and I copied him," Griezmann told Movistar.

He added of his celebration: "I like the ritual that LeBron James does before the games and I tried to copy him. I hope I can keep copying him for many more games - that would be the best signal."

After the game, Griezmann took to Twitter to say: "How beautiful it is to score at Camp Nou! Thank you for your support, may our colours shine!"

Barca's win was the first of the new season, Ernesto Valverde's side having lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao in their opening fixture.

They face Osasuna on Saturday in their final match before the international break.

LeBron James wants to "destroy as many people as possible" as the Los Angeles Lakers superstar looks to silence his doubters, according to Richard Jefferson.

James swapped the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Lakers in 2018-19 but he was unable to lead the storied NBA franchise to the playoffs.

The 34-year-old averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists for the Lakers, who missed the postseason for the sixth successive season.

James, who also struggled with a groin injury that limited him to 55 games, failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05.

Jefferson, who played alongside James for the Cavaliers from 2015-17, backed the three-time champion and four-time MVP to bounce back in a big way.

"LeBron James will be the best player in basketball next year, again," Jefferson told ESPN's 'Get Up!' on Monday.

"Now, will he be the LeBron James from '08 and chasing down blocks? No. But, he's going to do so many different things. … I think he understands the disrespect. He's felt it over the course of his career, at different levels. Now, it's like 'Oh, you're old. You're not that guy anymore'.

"But, I think, really and truly, he's more focused on proving to people that basketball is the most important thing to him. And, the only way to do that is to go and destroy as many people as possible."

The Lakers' roster should be much improved this season after they acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks this offseason.

Los Angeles had cap space to add a third star next to James and Davis, but missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who joined cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers then signed Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso to deals.

David Griffin wants people to know he maintains a "positive relationship" with LeBron James.

Griffin received scrutiny after comments regarding the Los Angeles Lakers and former Cleveland Cavaliers star were published in a recent Sports Illustrated story.

Griffin – who spent nearly a decade as an executive in Cleveland's organisation before joining the New Orleans Pelicans – said he was "miserable" during his time with the Cavaliers.

His comments shocked James, according to ESPN, and Griffin said on Friday his feelings were unrelated to the NBA superstar.

"The fact that there was so much scrutiny in everything that we did, when I was speaking about being uncomfortable and being miserable, it was my inability to deal with that media scrutiny," Griffin told ESPN.

"It wasn't the man himself. It was everything that came with a team led by LeBron James. It had nothing to do with being miserable with LeBron. We had and have a very positive relationship."

Griffin thought the article was going to focus on New Orleans as he helped rebuild the roster by sending Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks as well as the addition of Derrick Favors and JJ Redick and former Duke star Zion Williamson with the top pick in the 2019 draft.

Quinn Cook is excited he joined the Los Angeles Lakers, with the recruit expecting a better NBA season for the LeBron James' team.

The Lakers revamped their roster this offseason as they acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to pair with James.

They had the cap space to add a third max player, but missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who signed with city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers – who missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season – then went on to sign Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley to deals.

Cook swapped the Golden State Warriors for the Lakers on a two-year, $6million contract and he told USA Today's HoopsHype: "We have our team group chat going and the guys are very active in it.

"It feels like this team has been together for a while. Everyone has been really active in the group chat. … All of the guys are really excited to get things going. I know this NBA season will be one of the better ones for everyone."

"It was a great experience for me, learning more about the business and stuff like that, but it was a long couple of days," Cook added. "The biggest thing was joining a winner. That's why I play this game. I want to win as much as possible.

"Also, I wanted to go somewhere I'd have the opportunity to be a consistent role player and just try to help as much as possible. … I think the Lakers presented the perfect situation and opportunity for me."

Cook – who was part of Golden State's 2017-19 championship-winning team – spent the last two seasons with the Warriors and averaged 6.9 points in 14.3 minutes per game in 2018-19.

He was originally a restricted free agent, but Golden State rescinded his qualifying offer in order to create cap space to acquire D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

"I am very thankful for my opportunity [in Golden State]," Cook said. "I think I really took a big step forward in my NBA career in the two years that I was there. I accomplished some things there that I'd always dreamed of accomplishing."

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis did not publicly commit his long-term future to the NBA franchise after teaming up with LeBron James.

Davis swapped the New Orleans Pelicans for the Lakers via a trade earlier this month as he tries to lead Los Angeles to the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.

The six-time All-Star is entering the final year of his contract and while he is tipped to re-sign with the Lakers, Davis gave nothing away during his introductory news conference.

"Honestly, I'm focused on this season," Davis told reporters in Los Angeles on Saturday.

"When I got traded here, my goal is to bring a championship here with the team that we have. And when that time comes around next year, then you can ask me that question and we'll revisit it.

"Right now, my focus is on this year, and trying to figure out how I can help this team, and help the organisation become a championship team."

The Lakers failed to acquire Davis from the Pelicans prior to last season's trade deadline but general manager Rob Pelinka eventually got his man in July.

Los Angeles traded away Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks for Davis, who was selected first by the Pelicans in 2012.

"Obviously it was tough for me to leave a city that I've been playing for for seven years, but I think it was best for me, and it was my time," the 26-year-old Davis said.

"But when I found out I was getting traded to the Lakers, I realised it was an unbelievable opportunity for me to be here with a wonderful organisation, and then to play alongside LeBron and obviously now the players that we have now ... to get the opportunity to do that and come here and play for an organisation that's all about winning - forget winning, winning championships, and that's the only goal - I think that was the biggest thing for me.

"Just the relief there, of not knowing the unknown anymore, and knowing where I was going to be next season."

Anthony Davis is thrilled at the prospect of linking up with "great leader" LeBron James at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The six-time All-Star was traded to LA by the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this month and will join three-time NBA champion James in attempting to return the Lakers to the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.

James and Davis have previously teamed up at the 2012 Olympics, as well as at All-Star Games, but the latter is relishing the opportunity to work with his fellow superstar on a more regular basis.

"The things he does on the floor are pretty amazing," Davis told a news conference on Saturday.

"You see it on TV and when you're a fan you watch it a lot but I've never really had a chance to experience playing alongside him. The 2012 Olympics I didn't play much, I was the towel guy, and we had a bit of time during All-Star Games.

"To get a full season and see the things he's able to do – pass, shoot, he talks well defensively, he's a great leader, I'm excited to get a lot of that this season and go from there."

And Davis believes the Lakers, who finished 10th in the Western Conference last season with a 37-45 record, have put together a roster to challenge in 2019-20.

"It's gonna be fun for sure," he said. "I'm excited about it. The league has grown, it's better, all the players teaming up and spreading that talent throughout the league, it's gonna be a fun season.

"I like our roster, I like every player we have, I'm excited and I'll put our roster against anybody, it feels like in a seven-game series we'll come out victorious."

Davis also discussed waiving his $4million trade kicker, a decision he made in a bid to give his new franchise greater financial power to bring in more talent.

Kawhi Leonard, an NBA champion and Finals MVP with the Toronto Raptors last season, was a target for the Lakers before he completed a switch to city rivals the Clippers.

"Any time you can acquire a player like Kawhi, you have to do almost anything to get a guy like that," Davis said.

"It didn't work out for us but I still wanted to make sure I did whatever to help the team. That $4m was to add more money to a player's contract, or get another guy, then by all means I was gonna do that and we did a great job using that throughout the entire team."

After making drastic changes to the Los Angeles Lakers' roster this offseason, general manager Rob Pelinka stressed expectations will be high entering 2019-20.

The most notable change comes with the addition of Anthony Davis, who the Lakers acquired in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram.

When free agency started, the Lakers were in the running to land Kawhi Leonard. 

But when the NBA Finals MVP opted to sign with cross-town rivals the Clippers, the Lakers filled out their roster by adding DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook and Avery Bradley. They also re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and JaVale McGee.

With the upgraded roster, Pelinka said on Friday the Lakers need to win a 2020 NBA title in order to consider the season successful. 

"For us anything short of a championship is not success," he said on a conference call, via the Los Angeles Times.

Pelinka also revealed he relied on input from James and Davis to help make decisions on filling out the Lakers' roster.

"We view our relationships here with our star players as partnerships," Pelinka told reporters.

"I know both Anthony and LeBron are excited about the 14 guys and how we're going to come together. Both of their input has been incredibly valuable to me."

Pelinka's comments come just a couple months after the Lakers finished 10th in the Western Conference with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs for the sixth season in a row.

LeBron James marked a new Los Angeles Lakers era on Sunday night with a ceremonial passing of his number to new team-mate Anthony Davis. 

Lakers star James posted a picture on Instagram of the pair holding a Lakers number 23 jersey with Davis' name on the back, with the accompanying caption reading, "Officially a Laker!!"

Davis has worn 23 throughout his seven-year career with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Not only had James indicated that he might give up his Lakers number for his new colleague, but he also hinted previously at what number he might wear beginning in the 2019-20 season.

Some 10 days before the Davis deal officially became a reality, James tweeted a tiny number six with a praying-hands emoji.

James wore 23 for most of his career, including two stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and his first season with the Lakers. 

However, he wore six in his four seasons with the Miami Heat and often does so in Lakers practices too. 

What we do know with relative certainty is that James will not wear the 11 Lakers numbers that have been retired: eight and 24 (Kobe Bryant), 13 (Wilt Chamberlain), 22 (Elgin Baylor), 25 (Gail Goodrich), 32 (Magic Johnson), 33 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), 34 (Shaquille O'Neal), 42 (James Worthy), 44 (Jerry West) and 52 (Jamaal Wilkes).

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka described the acquisition of All-Star Anthony Davis as "a historic moment" for the NBA franchise.

The Lakers officially announced the arrival of Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, providing LeBron James with star support.

Los Angeles dealt Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, the draft rights to De'Andre Hunter, two first round picks, a first-round pick swap right and cash in exchange for six-time All-Star Davis.

"Anthony Davis is arguably the most dominant all-around young player in today's NBA," said Pelinka.

"Anthony represents everything we stand for, with his unwavering commitment to excellence as both a person and athlete.

"This is a historic moment for the Lakers franchise, and we couldn't be more proud to have him."

Davis has averaged 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 assists over his seven-year career in the NBA, while the 26-year-old averaged 25.9 points, 12 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 blocks for the Pelicans last season.

The Lakers missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season despite the arrival of James in 2018-19.

An injury to James on Christmas Day derailed the Lakers, who finished 10th in the Western Conference with a 37-45 record.

The NBA is going to look quite different in 2019-20.

After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first title, Kawhi Leonard will reportedly team up with Paul George at the Los Angeles Clippers next season.

It is a move that will reignite the rivalry with a much-changed Los Angeles Lakers, while the Golden State Warriors have seen Kevin Durant jump ship and move to the Eastern Conference.

We look at the teams with a 'big two' following a series of movements in an incredible offseason.

 

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

It was a big surprise when the Clippers took defending champions the Warriors to Game 6 in the playoffs, but they will undoubtedly be a better team next season.

The additions of Leonard and six-time All-Star George – although the latter came at a high price that included sending Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five first-round draft picks, four of which are unprotected, and two pick swaps to the Oklahoma City Thunder – have created a new force in the Western Conference that will be looking to contend straight away.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Despite finally pulling off the acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers freed up enough cap space for a run at Leonard.

However, they were unable to seal a deal with the NBA Finals MVP and will instead look to improve on LeBron James' disappointing first season by forming a truly formidable duo with Davis.

BROOKLYN NETS

Durant ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but it did not lead to a reduction in interest in the Warriors star.

The 2014 MVP decided to end his time at Golden State and team up with Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, who consequently captured two of the three biggest free agents on the market to step up their rebuild several notches.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

It looked as though the Warriors would dominate again when they signed DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal in the last offseason, despite the center being sidelined by an Achilles injury.

Cousins has not returned and with Durant out the door, Golden State will be relying on the backcourt tandem of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – reportedly on a five-year max contract – though trading for D'Angelo Russell could lighten the load.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Having lost out to the Miami Heat in their reported pursuit of Jimmy Butler, the Rockets will go again with James Harden and Chris Paul leading the charge.

General manager Daryl Morey rejected reports of a rift between Harden and Paul, though he will be keen for the team to start winning as early as possible following a sluggish start in 2018-19.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

The Blazers made a stunning run to the Western Conference Finals before being swept by the Warriors.

They will hope to go one better after tying Damian Lillard down to a four-year contract extension in the offseason, ensuring his partnership with fellow sharpshooter CJ McCollum will continue.

Los Angeles is set for a blockbuster NBA rivalry next season after Kawhi Leonard reportedly agree to sign on for the Clippers.

With Paul George also said to be joining from the Oklahoma City Thunder, an exciting Clippers team is set to go head-to-head against a Los Angeles Lakers franchise fronted by NBA icon LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Leonard, who spearheaded the Toronto Raptors to a maiden championship last season, is a signing who can make the Clippers – who finished eighth in the Western Conference in 2018-19 – a real force to be reckoned with.

In July 2018, it was the Lakers making waves when they drafted in superstar James from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There is now some real star power across both Los Angeles teams, and inspired by this, we have taken a look at times when cross-city rivalries sent the sporting world into a frenzy.

 

Manchester City v Manchester United

For a long time, Manchester City lived in Manchester United's shadow, suffering multiple relegations while their rivals won a treble and dominated the domestic game under Alex Ferguson's tutelage. Things changed in 2008, however, when City were bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, owner of the Abu Dhabi United Group, and they have since gone on to become much more than the "noisy neighbours" that Ferguson dubbed them in 2009.

The pendulum did not swing fully in City's favour until the last day of the 2011-12, when they clinched their first Premier League title in the most dramatic of circumstances. Sergio Aguero's last-gasp goal in a 3-2 win against QPR is the thing of folklore, the Argentina striker scoring after Edin Dzeko had already levelled the scores in stoppage time. It denied Ferguson's United, who thought they had the job done having won at Sunderland until news of City's sensational finale filtered through.

United got their revenge the following season, but since Ferguson left, the Red Devils have hardly come close to keeping pace with City.

Rabbitohs v Roosters

The oldest and fiercest rivalry in the NRL is between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters.

Their rivalry escalated in the 1990s when the increased financial standing of the Roosters came in stark contrast to the lack of funds available to the Rabbitohs, who broke a 10-year, 13-game losing streak against their nemesis in 2005.

In the last regular-season rounds of 2013 and 2014, the Roosters came out on top against their rivals to claim the Minor Premiership, though the Rabbitohs won in the preliminary final in the latter campaign to reach their first grand final in 43 years. Four years later, the Roosters defeated Souths 12-4 in the preliminary final at Allianz Stadium, in front of a record crowd.

Mets v Yankees 

In 2000, the New York Mets and New York Yankees met in the Major League Baseball World Series - the first time two teams from the Big Apple had met in the showpiece since 1956.

Referred to as the "Subway Series", it was the Yankees who came out on top with a dominant 4-1 series win, despite having lost 15 of their last 18 regular season games.

It was a third successive World Series triumph for the Yankees, who also made it to the same stage in 2001, but lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The rivals have not met in a World Series since, and it took the Mets another 15 years to make it back to the big stage.

UCLA v USC

One of the biggest college football rivalries comes in the form of the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans.

The most famous encounter between the two universities came in 1967, in a match known as "the game of the century." It matched USC - with OJ Simpson - against a UCLA side including Gary Beban, with the Conference Championship on the line, while Simpson and Beban were competing for the Heisman Trophy.

It was USC who ran out victorious in a 21-20 victory and they went on to defeat Indiana in the Rose Bowl and win the National Championship. Beban claimed the Heisman Trophy, despite Simpson's notable performance in the encounter and 1,543 rushing yards over the season.

Boca Juniors v River Plate

One of the most famous and fierce local rivalries in football, or indeed any sport, the Superclasico is an incredible Buenos Aires derby between Argentina's two biggest clubs - Boca Juniors and River Plate.

In 2018, both sides progressed to the final of the Copa Libertadores, making it the first Superclasico final of an international competition. It was a two-legged encounter with one match to be played at each ground.

Tensions were high, and after a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Boca's home Estadio Alberto J. Armando, they boiled over in dramatic and violent fashion prior to the second leg at El Monumental, with the match eventually called off after the Boca coach was attacked en route to the stadium.

After much controversy, the second leg finally took place at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, with River winning 3-1 to secure a 5-2 aggregate victory and their fourth Copa Libertadores title.

LeBron James seems like he will return to wearing number six.

The Los Angeles Lakers star is planning to gift his number 23 to new team-mate Anthony Davis, according to a report from Yahoo Sports.

James appeared to confirm the report on Thursday when he tweeted out the number six with an emoji.

James wore six while he was with the Heat from 2010-14. He won two titles and made four All-Star teams during his time in Miami.

He wore number 23 in each of his other 12 NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lakers.  

James left the Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3million deal with the Lakers last year. He averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists for Los Angeles in 2018-19 but was limited to a career-low 55 games because of a groin injury.

The Lakers reportedly acquired Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this month in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks.

Los Angeles then cleared cap space for a third max player ⁠after they reportedly agreed to send Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga, along with a second-round pick, to the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

The Lakers are reportedly considering pursuing Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, D'Angelo Russell and Kawhi Leonard.

Los Angeles may elect to add multiple role players, instead, and have been linked to Patrick Beverley, Enes Kanter, Danny Green, Terrence Ross as well as Seth Curry, among others.

LeBron James has reportedly given Anthony Davis a welcome gift at the Los Angeles Lakers - his iconic number 23 shirt.

Davis is widely expected to join the Lakers next week in a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, joining James, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers for Los Angeles last year.

James wore the 23 shirt last season and throughout two stints with the Cavaliers, but it is said he will present Davis with the number, which he also held with the Pelicans.

Four-time NBA MVP James wore the six shirt while with the Miami Heat.

News of the gift to Davis came shortly after claims the Lakers traded Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones, along with their 2022 second-round pick, to the Washington Wizards to clear cap space.

With Davis seemingly set to decline his $4million trade kicker, the Lakers would be left with $32m to bring in another player on a max deal.

One option would be Kawhi Leonard, the inspiration behind the Toronto Raptors' championship win, and separate reports on Thursday suggested he will meet with both the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Magic Johnson believes the Los Angeles Lakers should consider re-signing D'Angelo Russell from the Brooklyn Nets.

Russell spent his first two seasons in Los Angeles after being drafted with the second pick in 2015, before he was traded to the Nets in 2017 by Johnson and the Lakers. 

The 23-year-old guard earned his first All-Star appearance in 2018-19 as he led the Nets to the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15.

However, Russell – who will be a restricted free agent and the Nets can match any other sheet he signs with another team – "may be open" to returning to the Lakers according to reporters.

Johnson, who stepped down as the Lakers' president of basketball operations in April, feels a reunion would be good for both sides.

"He's better now," Johnson told The Athletic. "He's a different player. He's more mature."

The Nets are expected to pursue Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving, which may make Russell expendable. The Lakers also reportedly have interest in Irving as they prepare to finalise a trade for New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis.

Russell averaged a career-high 21.1 points and 7.0 assists while shooting 36.9 per cent from three-point range in 81 games in 2018-19.

The Nets exceeded expectations last season by making it to the postseason. They were topped by the Philadelphia 76ers in five games in their first-round series.

"If we're being completely honest, I enjoyed the team that we had this whole season," Russell told The New York Post about free agency earlier this month. "I'm not going to say I didn't enjoy our team, and the pieces we had around."

Russell is more likely to think about signing with the Lakers because of Johnson's resignation, according to Bleacher Report.

The guard has also been linked to the Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns, amongst others.

Los Angeles are also expected to pursue Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker and Kawhi Leonard, amongst others.

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