Team executive Magic Johnson lured LeBron James to Los Angeles with visions of restoring Showtime, but the Lakers are not quite ready for prime time.
“Hopefully some day we can put ourselves in position where we can compete for a championship as Golden State has done for the last few years,’’ James said Monday at the Lakers’ media day.
“They can pick up right where they left off, starting with training camp. We are picking up from scratch, so we got a long way to go. We can’t worry about what Golden State is doing. ... [The Warriors have] been together for a few years now.”
Lakers head coach Luke Walton said James, who signed a $154 million contract in the offseason, is setting the tone early in training camp. “He knows what time it is,” Walton said.
—Carmelo Anthony would be willing to play center or come off the bench if the Houston Rockets asked him to play those unfamiliar roles.
Anthony, who spent last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, said at the Rockets’ media day that he hasn’t talked to general manager Daryl Morey or head coach Mike D’Antoni about those questions because he’s willing to do whatever the team needs.
“Whatever I have to do to help this team win a championship, that’s what’s going to be done. I haven’t had that conversation with anybody yet. I’m very clear on what my role is,” said Anthony, who signed a one-year, $2.2 million contract to join the Rockets after a buyout from the Atlanta Hawks made him a free agent.
—Kemba Walker hears the chatter that he will be the target of a “super team” if he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July, but the two-time All-Star guard, who is entering his eighth season with the Charlotte Hornets, said he prefers to remain there.
Walker said he doesn’t “want to be nowhere else,” when he spoke with reporters during the club’s media day festivities. He asserted that joining a team already loaded with stars carries little appeal to him.
“You see guys who are on elite teams. I don’t want to do that,” Walker said. “I want to create something special here in Charlotte, something that we have never had here before. I want to create some consistency. And I want to be a part of that.”
—Restricted free agent guard Patrick McCaw has refused to sign the Warriors’ $1.7 million qualifying offer and will miss the start of training camp.
McCaw has been hoping to receive a long-term deal from another team, but nothing has transpired. The Warriors would have three days to match any such offer sheet. McCaw has until Oct. 30 to accept the qualifying offer.
McCaw, who turns 23 next month, has spent his first two NBA seasons with the Warriors. He averaged 4.0 points in 57 games last season. His campaign was interrupted by a spinal injury on March 31 after suffering a hard fall against the Sacramento Kings.
—As much as New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis wants to return to playing, he is committed to a patient approach as he continues to recover from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament.
“I’m hungry,” Porzingis told reporters at the team’s media day. “I want to be on the court as soon as possible. It’s good that I have a good team around me, holding me back when I need to be held back, telling me I need to be patient. It’s a long process, already 7 1/2 months.
“I’m getting itchy. But it won’t happen until I am 110 percent and medically cleared,” said the 7-foot-3 Latvian, who wouldn’t even rule out missing the entire season, offering only “it’s hard to say” when asked about the possibility.
—The San Antonio Spurs opened training camp and one thing was clear. The players are happy the Kawhi Leonard drama is in the past, with Leonard having been traded to the Toronto Raptors in the offseason after he played in just nine games last season due to a quadriceps injury.
“I was glad it was over,” point guard Dejounte Murray told reporters. “Everywhere I went, I couldn’t really go anywhere without everybody asking me. Just all the drama, and the Spurs aren’t used to drama. So it was weird for everybody in the world. It was a lot.”
Leonard’s relationship with the team reportedly fell apart due to conflicts over how to treat the injury. He sought outside medical help, spent a large portion of the season in New York and was rarely around the club. He was confronted by teammates in March over the slowness of his recovery, which furthered the divide.
—Leonard met the Toronto media for the first time as a member of the Raptors and didn’t share a lot about himself or the July trade from the Spurs.
“I’m a fun guy,” smiled the usually stoic Leonard, cracking a joke with the media. Beyond that, he was all business.
Leonard played just nine games last season with the Spurs while sidelined with a quadriceps injury. During his long time away from the team, his relationship with the only organization he’d played for since entering the NBA in 2011 soured to the point he demanded a trade. He wanted to go home to his native Los Angeles area. Instead, San Antonio set him to another country.
—Field Level Media