LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Magic Johnson lured LeBron James to Los Angeles with visions of restoring showtime, but the Lakers are not quite ready for primetime.
James said Monday at the Lakers’ media day that his new team can’t worry about running with the likes of the Golden State Warriors until they’ve earned that status.
“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.
“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. … They’ve been together for a few years now.”
Head coach Luke Walton said James is setting the tone early in training camp.
“He knows what time it is,” Walton said.
James signed a $154 million contract in the offseason, but the Lakers are not loaded with All-Star talent as James was in Cleveland and Miami with sidekicks such as Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Dwyane Wade.
A cast of veterans on short-term deals joined James, while the free agent class of 2019 — featuring Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler — could eventually be used to bloat the Lakers’ roster.
Johnson’s plan of adding James and Paul George, the L.A. native who opted to remain in Oklahoma City instead, didn’t pan out.
But Johnson said James is already having an impact on the young talent around him, including guards Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.
“That’s the greatness of LeBron,” Johnson said. “When you play against him every single day, you get better.” Having appeared in the NBA Finals eight consecutive years, James is not ready to talk championship in Los Angeles.
“There are going to be good times and bad times. If we continue to work the process and continue to sacrifice for one another and put in the commitment and time to being great, everything else will fall into place,” he said.