LeBron James and his agent Rich Paul reportedly met with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham last week to discuss the direction of the team ahead of the 2022-23 season.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the majority of the meeting "was about expressing concerns, and hearing out strategies and opinions to assure there wouldn't be a repeat of last season's epic failure."
James is eligible for a two-year, $97.1 million extension this offseason. While some time was spent on contract talks, Haynes noted that the 37-year-old was more focused on figuring out how to ensure the Lakers compete for a title this season.
"James, sources said, drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion, noting that last season's team didn't give themselves a chance on many nights," Haynes wrote.
The Lakers went 33-49 in 2021-22 and failed to make the playoffs. The team struggled with chemistry and effort issues, as well as injuries. While James is hoping to avoid a repeat of last season, his new head coach appears to be on the same page.
Ham, who was hired to replace Frank Vogel after his firing, "agreed with James and reiterated that his main objectives are to hold everyone accountable and foster an atmosphere of selflessness," per Haynes. The former Milwaukee Bucks assistant "voiced that defensive tenacity needs to be picked up all across the roster," and he also indicated that he won't hesitate to move players into new roles or out of the lineup if they don't buy into the new strategy.
Haynes added that Ham said he intends to run the team's offense through power forward Anthony Davis, to which James agreed. Davis was limited to 40 games last season after dealing with multiple injuries, but the team reportedly is encouraged by his progress this offseason.
Los Angeles is also looking for improvement from Russell Westbrook, as Haynes noted "the team is also hopeful for a corner-three shooting percentage bump" from the star point guard this season.
In the end, the meeting was "deemed productive and informative." But it remains to be seen if it will translate to success on the court.