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    Swanson: If JJ Redick is Lakers’ only big move, is it enough?
    • July 6, 2024

    In a world where the Boston Celtics have just won an 18th championship, the Lakers are turning to an unlikely hero to save them.

    In a world where great risks can bring extraordinary rewards, the Lakers are banking on an unknown.

    In a world where pressure is mounting daily, the Lakers resist: Their one and only big splashy offseason move remains swapping Darvin Ham for JJ Redick.

    You can almost hear Don LaFontaine narrating this movie’s trailer, it’s about to be that kind of season.

    The Lakers took away the keys from a first-time head coach who in two seasons at the wheel was 90-74, dissatisfying despite the Western Conference finals appearance in 2023, and handed them to a broadcaster-podcaster whose only coaching experience was leading his kid’s team to two 55 Swish League championships in the third- and fourth-grade division.

    A bold choice, their second choice. And an intriguing one, because it could prove a brilliant decision – or a disastrous one. And according to the championship-or-bust laws of Lakerdom, it’ll be one or the other.

    But breathe, Lakers fans who’ve come to count on major roster overhauls every offseason – the coaching change was their big move. Plus, you’re turning purple; that’s probably not healthy, especially considering you could be holding your breath till Feb. 6, next season’s trade deadline, by which time you’ll have a better idea of what this team under Redick needs – or doesn’t.

    Remember, the Lakers liked the lineup they brought into last season, and you probably did too. ESPN painted that unit as the fifth best in the league. Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura all got new contracts after contributing to a conference finals run. Anthony Davis’ take a year ago: “We obviously look good on paper.”

    But obviously they didn’t like how it looked with the reins in Ham’s hands, how reluctant he was to give his best players time together, how reliant he became on Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish instead of the contingent that had been brought back in the hopes of building valuable continuity.

    Eventually he went back to what worked the season before and the Lakers finished strong – 30-16 after the first week of January, better than all but Boston, Denver and Oklahoma City in that span – though by then Ham had lost the huddle and the Lakers were on their way to losing again to the Nuggets in the postseason, this time in round one.

    And in an “apron world” that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and his counterparts now are navigating, he hasn’t found a trade partner to dance with this offseason to improve the roster in a significant way.

    Smartly, he hasn’t sacrificed scarce assets for guys like Jerami Grant or Bruce Brown or Cam Johnson, sideways pickups whose purported price tags would wind up only setting the Lakers back.

    Luckily perhaps, he failed to land Klay Thompson on a reported four-year $80 million potential albatross of a deal – or, for that matter, UConn coach Dan Hurley, who went on that bizarre interview-and-tell tour after turning the Lakers down.

    Incredibly, they’re relying on the rookie Redick to redeem them. To satiate a what-have-you-done-for-me-this-hour fan base.

    The Lakers are betting on the polished former player from Duke, the smartest guy in every room, to be that adaptable communicator who can employ modern tactics and keep clicking with LeBron James while relating to everyone else. Hoping he’ll hit the ground sprinting, helping and inspiring and cajoling and creating competitive joy without fracturing the fragile chemistry of a team featuring a King and his son.

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    For what it’s worth, Redick thinks it’s doable, or so he said at his introductory news conference.

    “I don’t look at the current roster as being that far off from a championship-caliber team,” said Redick, whose big ideas include ways to generate more 3-pointers and who wants to give players freedom to crash in order to improve the team’s 29th-ranked offensive rebounding percentage, and much more, surely.

    Sounds good in theory, and when you imagine LaFontaine narrating it.

    But we won’t know whether it works or not until the show opens in the real world, with the same cast but a new director and the same exceptional expectations.

    “Sitting in this seat, I know what the expectations are… the expectation is a championship… that’s what I signed up for.”

    – JJ Redick, new Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers

    — NBA (@NBA) June 24, 2024



    ​ Orange County Register 

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