When the Los Angeles Lakers won the summer by inking LeBron James to a four-year, $154M contract, much of the excitement was about how “The King” would play with the youngsters in L.A. — most notably Lonzo Ball. But according to Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, Ball isn’t guaranteed to be in the starting lineup alongside LeBron. In fact, no one on the Lakers is currently penciled into the starting lineup — except LeBron, of course. Via ESPN:

Pelinka also made it clear that the four starting spots around James will be open to competition. That means Rondo and Ball will be competing for the starting point guard spot.

“We feel like we are going to have an open training camp in terms of competing and figuring out what is that best five to win and go deep into the playoffs and give ourselves a chance to win a championship,” Pelinka said. “We are going to play fast. … You can imagine lineups on the court where everyone is 6-[foot-]7, 6-8 or above. Brandon Ingram, LeBron is a positionless player. … It is really exciting to think about the length and speed and the way we can play.”

Whether Pelinka is saying this just to foster competition and hard work within the team, or to placate some of the veterans they just signed, it seems unlikely that every spot around LeBron is truly up for grabs. Like, seriously, Brandon Ingram isn’t going to be starting next season? Come on. The Rondo-Ball battle sounds more reasonable given how well Rondo played in the playoffs last season, but it still seems doubtful that they’d bench the No. 2 overall pick from last year’s draft for a veteran when it’s not exactly as if this team is one such move away from winning a title. 

However much truth there is to Pelinka’s claim, one thing that’s clear is this will be an entirely new era of Lakers basketball. Yes, some key faces from last season’s team are still there, such as Ball, Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. But for all intents and purposes, this is a new start in L.A. And it will be fascinating to see how it plays out. 


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