for the Lakers, becoming champion again cannot wait

« Oldies but goldies? ». Good for the service despite the years? For LeBron James’ Lakers and the armada of veterans who now surround him, winning an 18th NBA title after last season’s failure can’t wait.

The injuries of James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (Achilles tendon) had destroyed any hope of retaining their championship title gleaned in October 2020 in the Orlando bubble and abandoned to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Lakers have cleaned up their ranks for the new season they start on Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors.

Only three players out of the nineteen who made up the workforce have been retained: the two stars, as well as the promising Talen Horton-Tucker (20).

And if a few young people have been hired (Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk for the supporting roles, the French Sekou Doumbouya for the bottom of the bench), the main recruits are veterans, aged 32 to 37: Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington.

According to analytical website Real GM, the « purple and gold » team will be by far the oldest in the league this season, with an average age of almost 31 (30.7).

Which in itself is not that high. Except that looking more closely, his « oldest » players will be the most solicited, except Anthony Davis, 28, a strong man in the workforce, without whom the title ambitions would be utopian. His absence of several weeks in the spring was proof of this, since LA, who in addition could not fully rely on James suffering from an ankle, was released in the first round of the play-offs by Phoenix.

– « Retirement home » –

Optimists will recall, however, that after all, the Dallas Mavericks of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd were on average 31.6 years old when they were crowned in 2011, and the Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman were over 32 when they were crowned. achieved the treble in 1998.

But these teams reaped the benefits of automated systems built over several years.

Some already laugh at « the Lakers retirement home », arguing the increased risk of injury for its residents and the lack of time to create an alchemy so that this sum of individuals, as talented as it is, quickly becomes a team. Those concerned do not care.

« You don’t have longevity in this league without discipline. We have guys who have mileage, but there is definitely a reason why they still play. I’m not worried, the mind, the wisdom will be key to it. win. But we have a lot, with experience, « argued Rondo who was once champion, like James, Davis, Howard and Ariza.

But if the experience evoked consists in showing the way to be sacred, stars like Westbrook or Anthony cannot take advantage of it, they who dream of a first title in order to crown a career reduced to individual distinctions.

– Increased motivation –

« We have a lot of firepower, a lot of very motivated guys to make sure to win. We’re going to have to put all of that in place during the season, but I think we have a very good chance, » he said. coach Frank Vogel.

James sees sneers as a source of extra motivation. « Keep talking about my team, the age of our players, the way they play, that so-and-so is still injured, that we’ve had our time in the NBA, etc. Please keep the same energy when it starts. That’s all I’m asking! « he tweeted recently.

The six preseason games concluded with as many losses did not reassure Lakers fans. Especially since they are already deploring injuries, before opening the season against Golden State: Ariza (ankle), Horton-Tucker (thumb), Monk (groin), Nunn (ankle), Ellington (hamstrings).

“It’s going to take a while for us to become the team that we can be. There will be times when we aren’t quite where we are, where we take steps back. It’s part of the process. leader, I can not afford to be frustrated, « James relativized at the microphone of ESPN.

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