Even though Lakers Media Day is a few days away, the preseason preparation has continued, and plans have begun falling into place.
Days after the team’s annual minicamp organized by LeBron James, GM Rob Pelinka and Head Coach Darvin Ham held a press conference Thursday. They finally determined who will start at point guard, ending a debate between two talented facilitators. Additionally, LA has emerged as a suitor for the recently traded Jrue Holiday.
Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell Named Starter, Team Interested in Jrue Holiday
Darvin Ham: D’Angelo Russell is the Starting PG
Russell returned to the Lakers after six years of shuffling around the league. He had a productive second stint with LA. The 27-year-old showed how well he meshed with James and Anthony Davis last season, recording a net rating of 20.4 (123.4 on offense, 103 on defense). Russell also proved himself as an electric scorer and facilitator, complementing the rest of the team with his play style. D’Lo’s leadership has been apparent throughout the season and subsequent summer, a skill that Darvin Ham greatly appreciates:
“He’s been great with his communication all summer. Seeing him in workouts and pickup games; he’s vocal, he’s encouraging the new guys; he had a couple workouts just with LeBron and AD.”
Lakers beat reporter Mike Trudell summarized Pelinka’s thoughts on Russell’s growth:
“Pelinka also praised his offseason, and how hard he worked in the weight room to gain some strength in his shoulders, and noted the immediate way in which Russell helped balance the Lakers roster last February (+12.2 net rating in the regular season).”
With Russell’s spot secured next to standout shooting guard Austin Reaves, that means Vincent will be coming off the bench. Vincent’s career bench stats—5.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists across 127 games—aren’t great at first glance. However, his growth as a player cannot be denied. He has turned into a reliable starter, especially during the postseason. Vincent put up 12.7 points and 3.5 assists on .402/.378/.882 splits during Miami’s Finals run. His willingness to buy in as a “sixth man” for the Lakers will be pivotal for the team’s success.
The Lakers’ trust in Russell ironically comes with an intriguing trade rumor.
Lakers Interested in Jrue Holiday
Following Jrue Holiday’s move to the Blazers, a list of contenders are eyeing his services, and Portland is moving quickly on a deal. One of those teams, according to the Miami Herald, is Holiday’s hometown Lakers.
Holiday played for Studio City’s Campbell Hall School, and he is known as one of the top NBA players from Southern California. He remained in SoCal, spending a year with UCLA, and has gone on to have a storied 14-year career with the 76ers, Pelicans and the aforementioned Bucks. With another stop on the horizon, Holiday is open to a homecoming with the purple and gold, per the Herald.
But as far as a trade to the Lakers, it’s harder than it looks.
If LA’s interest in Holiday is reciprocated by the Blazers, it means another waiting game begins. Russell, the presumed cornerstone of such a package, cannot be traded until Dec. 15. The same goes for over half of LA’s roster, limiting the team’s efforts if they become serious about a deal. The Blazers, meanwhile, would have to shift their stance on moving Holiday, who would have to be comfortable backing up Scoot Henderson for the first half of the season.
While a Holiday-Lakers pairing sounds excellent, it is simply not feasible given Portland’s current desires and LA’s current trajectory.
The Last Word
The Lakers are starting to put it all together as training camp looms. Their offseason work has the potential to pay off in a big way, and all signs point to a promising year. Whether LA winds up pursuing Holiday is another story, but it follows a theme for the purple and gold: never stop improving.