Pelinka: Lakers built to match up with Warriors

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers' slew of free agent additions around signing LeBron James have been made in an attempt to give the star forward a different way to try to topple the Golden State Warriors.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka told reporters Wednesday that the moves the team has made have been with defensive versatility and playoff experience in mind, as opposed to trying to add as much firepower as possible to try to keep up with the Warriors.

"If your goal is to win a championship, you've got to look at the way the champs are assembled and how you can give yourself the best chance to take them down," Pelinka said. "(President of basketball operations) Earvin (Johnson) and I had a conversation, and LeBron echoed this sentiment: I think to try to play the Warriors at their own game is a trap. No one is going to beat them at their own game, so that is why we wanted to add these elements of defense and toughness and depth and try to look at areas where we will have an advantage."

In addition to bringing in James, the Lakers have signed Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee and re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Rondo, Stephenson and McGee each have multiple seasons of playoff experience to their credit, with McGee being a part of the Warriors' past two NBA title teams.

"We did not want to go out and just sign specialists, 'Oh, this guy can just shoot,'" Pelinka said. "We wanted tough two-way players that can defend with a level of toughness and also make shots. Listen, the road to the NBA championship has to go through the team that won last year, and we all know the guys up north have a special group. But one of the ways to attack what they have is with defensive toughness. I think we saw that in the Houston series with some of the players that Houston has.

"And we identified with, if you look at KCP was a guy that is a tough defender and shooter, Josh Hart has proven to be a pit bull of a defender and can make shots, Rondo historically has been a tenacious, tough guy, steals. We wanted that mentality and we identified it. Lance Stephenson, he will agitate you, he will get under you, he will cause you to get out of your game and can play in the open court and score."

Pelinka added that the other four spots in the team's starting five around James will be up for grabs, meaning Rondo and rising second-year player Lonzo Ball will compete for the point guard job.

Ball, who is dealing with a torn meniscus in his left knee, is expected to be 100 percent ready for training camp, Pelinka said.

"We feel like we are going to have an open training camp in terms of competing and figuring out what is that best five to win and go deep into the playoffs and give ourselves a chance to win a championship," Pelinka said. — Reuters