A year after winning the Las Vegas Summer League, the Los Angeles Lakers are once again in the midst of a run to the ultimate prize. They also had a surprise visitor over the weekend: LeBron James.
James sat courtside to watch a few of his prospective teammates, including guard Josh Hart, notch a win over the Detroit Pistons. The Lakers will now face LeBron’s former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in the semifinals.
“Nothing extra,” said Hart, when asked about added motivation playing in front of LeBron. “At the end of the day, I play the game 94 by 50 feet. Obviously, that’s cool that [James] was there.”
Hart, who will likely earn significant minutes in the Lakers’ rotation alongside LeBron, dazzled with 18 points in 21 minutes. He notched 12 points in the game’s first eight minutes.
The Lakers made the big splash in free agency, inking LeBron to a 4-year, $154 million deal. LeBron, who had been in Las Vegas for several days, met some of his new teammates–including swingman Brandon Ingram–at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Although general manager Rob Pelinka said that the only assured starting spot in the Lakers’ rotation would go to LeBron, Ingram is probably a safe second. His length and ability to create his own shot should fit well in Luke Walton’s system. His scoring ability will also take pressure off of LeBron on the offensive end.
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