LeBron James and Stephen Curry test different paths to return to NBA top

LOS ANGELES – On the eve of his 19th NBA season, Carmelo Anthony is part of a new team but has the same ambitions: to win his first cham...


LOS ANGELES – On the eve of his 19th NBA season, Carmelo Anthony is part of a new team but has the same ambitions: to win his first championship. In this regard, he is not alone on the Los Angeles Lakers, a collection of veterans who will form one of the the most curious experiences.

“We have too much experience on this team to think of anything else that we’re going to find out,” said Anthony. “But all of this takes time.”

After a winless preseason, the lakers will officially begin on Tuesday night, when they play their opener against the Golden State Warriors, a franchise that has recently done business in a decidedly different way.

While the Lakers have been a teardown project – LeBron James, who signed with the team in 2018, is the longest-serving player on the roster – Golden State has been busy reshaping while keeping the essential core of its team intact. not-so-distant championship, all in the hope of staging a resurrection with the help of some unpublished pieces.

Two teams. Two approaches. And a decisive test at the start of the season, but long awaited, at the Staples Center on the viability of each.

“I think we’ll be ready,” said Anthony. “You can feel it.”

Warriors, do you remember? – resume it with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and, finally, Klay Thompson, who the team expects to reunite in late December or early January after missing the last two seasons with injuries. Thompson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the 2019 final, then rupture of the right Achilles tendon last november.

“It doesn’t work without Klay,” Curry said in an interview last week. “So there is definitely anticipation. And we feel like we’ll have three seasons in one this year: that first chapter until it returns, puts it back in the fold, and then the playoffs continue. Then there is a lot to look forward to. “

Without Thompson – and largely without Curry, which broke his hand and missed all but five games – Golden State hibernated throughout the 2019-20 season, finishing with the worst record in the league. Last season, as the team continued to prepare for prospects like Jordan Poole, a 2019 first-round pick and Juan Toscano-Anderson, who came out of the G League, the Warriors went 39-33.

Now Golden State is almost whole. And the team hailed the reappearance of a familiar figure: André Iguodala, a key cog on the team’s five consecutive trips to the finals, from 2015 to 2019, which produced three championships.

“We’ve built something special here,” said Iguodala, who joined Golden State after spending most of the last two seasons with the Miami Heat.

As Iguodala was gone, Golden State experienced its fair share of turmoil. But the franchise has maintained a sense of stability. Curry and Green were still there. Thompson would be back at some point. And Steve Kerr, now entering his eighth season as the team’s coach, was at the helm. The pieces were there. It would just take awhile for them all to come together again.

“Our expectations are definitely higher this year than they have been in the past two years,” said Kerr, whose side went 5-0 in the preseason. “It’s a really fun group to train.

The Lakers will play under an even brighter spotlight after reshuffling their roster (again) this summer. They signed Anthony, traded for Russell Westbrook and acquired veterans like Kent Bazemore, DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo while dropping most of their staff last season. Most of the actors of their championship run in 2020: Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

The Lakers aren’t very keen on continuity, demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice draft picks and young players for brand stars of a certain vintage. If there is an emergency, much of it comes from the fact that James is 36 years old and struggled with injuries in recent years. No athlete can operate at the height of his powers forever, not even James. And so the Lakers have mortgaged their future in pursuit of another championship now – if they can create some chemistry in no time while avoiding more health issues.

“I think our basketball IQ, our talent and our skills are, for the most part, going to get us there,” said Anthony, “and then the cohesion of being together and playing together will get us over the top. We understand where we want to be and where we’re going to be, but we’re not there yet.

The team acknowledged that this will be a work in progress. As James said before training camp started, “I don’t think it’s going to be like peanut butter and jelly to start the season.”

Any mention of preseason basketball should be accompanied by a disclaimer that games don’t make sense. But the Lakers went 0-6, which was enough to raise some important questions: is this a mishmash roster? Can a team this old withstand the rigors of an 82-game regular season? And, perhaps most importantly, Westbrook and James, two players dominating the ball, can they coexist productively?

Frank Vogel, the team’s coach, said he had no such concerns.

“There is definitely a willingness for these guys to share and sacrifice themselves,” he said, adding: “It’s hard to get veterans over 15 to be completely serious about the pre -season.”

For his part, James said on Monday he had fully recovered from the ankle injury that had slowed him down towards the end of last season – “I didn’t do a lot of basketball for the first two months. of the summer, ”he said – and that he was ready for a fresh start, one that will come up against an opponent who, unlike the Lakers, is hoping to look back on his past.

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Newsrust - US Top News: LeBron James and Stephen Curry test different paths to return to NBA top
LeBron James and Stephen Curry test different paths to return to NBA top
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