Lakers Notes: LeBron, Supporting Cast, Davis

Just two days after he made comments widely interpreted as a call to the Lakers‘ front office to improve the roster, LeBron James had his best game of the season on Friday in Atlanta. James celebrated his 38th birthday by piling up 47 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists en route to 130-121 victory.

James didn’t do it all by himself though — five of his teammates scored in double digits, with Thomas Bryant grabbing 17 rebounds and Russell Westbrook nearly registering another triple-double (14 points, 11 assists, and eight boards). As Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes, James’ teammates could’ve taken offense to his comments alluding to the roster’s shortcomings, but instead seemed to be galvanized by them.

“I don’t think anyone took that as a slight,” head coach Darvin Ham said. “I think they took it as, ‘You know what? He’s right. We need to pick up our stuff up and really try to apply it in unison, all pulling in the same direction and go compete our butts off.'”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Rohan Nadkarni of and Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times responded differently to James’ comments from earlier this week about not wanting to finish his career “playing at this level, from a team aspect.” Nadkarni believes the onus is on the front office to listen to LeBron and upgrade the roster, while Plaschke says the Lakers should tell their superstar “no” and focus on retooling the roster by trading him in the offseason. As we outlined earlier today, James is ineligible to be traded during the season.
  • On paper, the contract extension James signed in August seemed like it should take some pressure off the Lakers and give the front office some additional time and freedom to operate as it sought roster upgrades. However, that hasn’t really been the case, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group, who notes that the team is now under scrutiny for how it manages the end of an all-time great player’s career when he’s dissatisfied with how things are going.
  • The Lakers “desperately need a shooter,” an executive tells Steve Bulpett of, but Anthony Davis‘ recovery timeline will play a large part in dictating the team’s path at the trade deadline. “The question is, can another big-time player put them in the mix, because they’re not going anywhere with the way they are currently constructed,” the exec said. “So they have to ask, do you want to borrow against the future to see if you can maximize the present? And then you deal with the future when it comes up. But if Davis isn’t going to be able to play, or he’s playing but not himself, then none of this will really matter anyway.”
  • In case you missed it, Davis spoke to reporters about how his recovery from a foot injury is progressing.
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