The 2022-23 season for the Los Angeles Lakers can be best described as the tale of two halves. No matter what happens to L.A in the postseason, the purple and gold have shocked the world by being where they are now compared to where they were at the beginning of the year.
Not only has time, chemistry and health helped the Lakers improve their overall record, but it primarily was the roster upgrade that Rob Pelinka made during the regular-season trade deadline.
LeBron James was passive aggressively advocating for roster changes and while it took the Lakers front office some time, they swung big and hit several home runs with the trades completed in February.
After defeating the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the second round, James was asked to describe how he embodied being uncomfortable throughout the year and how that has paid off now heading into the Western Conference Finals.
“Just try to be patient”, James said. “The man above is going to do what he is going to do. I feel like if we ever had an opportunity to upgrade our roster… to put some more balance around myself and AD, I feel like we can make a run. I feel like we can make a push… throughout the regular season and heading into the post season. I think Rob and the front office did that. They did that. It is up to me and AD to come through on the moves that they made and also just staying healthy. We were not as healthy as we would have liked to be, but we still played good basketball after the break, and it put us in a position to play in a play-in game and a couple playoff series so far.”
The puzzle to getting back into competitive stature had to be solved by building around James and Anthony Davis. That was the recipe in the 2020 championship run, and so far that proves to be a winning formula yet again with the Lakers being in the final four of the NBA.
When James was asked about the roster upgrades, he went into depth on why it has worked so well around himself and Davis, and how this team stacks against the rest of the league.
“Gave us a lot of shooting obviously,” James said. “With DLo and Beez and Mo, it gave us a lot of shooting and a lot of space to be around myself and AD. We play on the perimeter but we are not primarily three-point shooters. I will take my fair share, but when you have that space it allows us to do what we do best. Also it just gave us a lot of depth. Another ball-handler in DLo and takes pressure off DS, AR and even myself. It gives us a lot of length when we added Rui and Vando. We were very small early in the season. We would get stops, but on rebounds, it would be difficult for us.
“With the length that we have, we are able to rebound a lot better. The guys that came in with no expectations and they said hey lets figure this thing out. From my point of view, a lot of the games for four and a half weeks I was out. I was just watching and seeing how could I be better and how could I put my team in a position to continue to thrive like they were already doing. I just got super excited. You could see my tweets and I was super excited about the games being played and could not wait to get back. It is a lot more, but that is the most of it.”
The Lakers have been marvelous this postseason, but the job is not done yet. A season filled with perseverance would only be right that is finished with the 18th championship in franchise history.
Pelinka credits Lakers’ ‘togetherness’ since trade deadline
Creating a new team at the trade deadline and attempting to go compete for a championship is a tall task. On one hand, the group has to mesh well and have good enough chemistry to have a deep playoff run.
Rob Pelinka seemed to gamble against that, and his moves during the 2023 trade deadline proved to be a huge success for a team that desperately needed answers in order to try and win.
After the Lakers’ Game 6 series win over the Warriors, Pelinka attributed the purple and gold’s ‘togetherness’ for getting this far heading into the Western Conference Finals.
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