The Lakers had another Summer League game Wednesday night, playing the Philadelphia 76ers, and they had a special guest in the stands Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
None of your young players emerged as a franchise pillar or star last season. Does that make your job tougher, from a player-personnel standpoint?
First off, there are very few guys who shine after one or 2 seasons. Only the elite guys do. But I kind of like it this way. We’re built like you learn from your mistakes. When you’re not a superstar, you have a chip on your shoulder because it makes them hungrier to get better.
So I kind of like the progression. I like slow progression. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Mikhail Prokhorov has told us ‘patience, patience.’ I have the same message. We’re gonna be patient with them. They made some progress, but now to make that next step is harder. I’m looking two, three, sometimes development is four years down the road. That’s when hopefully we’ll see these guys, really. You’ll be talking about ‘man, that guy’s a heckuva player.’
You finished with the NBA’s worst record last season. What kind of progress did you see as a team internally that people on the outside may have missed?
I thought we improved defensively when we put Rondae in the starting lineup and we inserted Caris obviously Bojan [Bogdanovic] was traded. So all of the sudden we go from 30th defensive team to, after the All-Star game we were eighth in defensive efficiency. So I was proud of that. It’s not like the coaches did anything, but Caris and Rondae being a part of that defensive improvement I think is very important.