After signing LeBron James to a four-year contract, the Los Angeles Lakers took the unorthodox approach of rounding out their roster with veterans and playmakers. That was opposed to spot-up shooters that have typically littered rosters led by James.
While it was a different approach than some of James’ prior teams, the Lakers made it clear they wanted to avoid burdening him with playmaking on a nightly basis. The strategy is one James has publicly supported.
Nevertheless, his taking more control of the offense coincided with the Lakers turning the ship around after a 2-5 start to the season. Though, there’s also something to be said for the turnaround on defense and players also growing accustomed to playing with one another.
More may now fall into his lap as Rajon Rondo is recovering from hand surgery and Lonzo Ball could be limited by a sprained left ankle. In the instances where James had already been assuming point guard duties, scouts believe it’s come with not necessarily running plays Lakers head coach Luke Walton called, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:
The scouts also have noticed that when James is running the point, he rarely looks toward the bench to receive playcalls from coach Luke Walton. Even when he has seen them, the scouts say, he ignores them and runs the play he prefers. Walton has adjusted, and now when James is running the show, Walton will typically just let him call the game. This probably shouldn’t be considered a slight — it’s just James being James.
Even if James is bypassing Walton’s calls in favor of his own, there has not been any indication of a rift or growing unrest between the two. When Lakers president of Magic Johnson met with Walton to criticize him over the team’s offense, James was said to still be in support of his coach.
It can also be presumed that Walton would not necessarily take exception to James exercising his control on the court, as he’s regularly stressed and emphasizing players taking charge.