Lakers’ starting five a mystery that won’t be solved by start of preseason games

The Lakers' Anthony Davis and LeBron James are shown during Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
The Lakers’ Anthony Davis, left, and LeBron James are shown during Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
(Associated Press)

The Lakers are scheduled to open their preseason Friday against the Clippers. That much we know.

Everything else about the Lakers, and for that matter, every team trying to play during this pandemic, is cloaked in maybes.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said LeBron James and Anthony Davis, his stars, were not likely to play in preseason game No. 1, but knowing who else might be on the court or how long they’ll be there is still very much up in the air.

“That’s tough to say, where we’re going to be at on Friday,” Vogel said Tuesday on a videoconference. “But we’ve had the same group today we had for the first two days of practice. We’ll have to see where everything is at on Friday in terms of knowing how many players we’re going to have.”

As of now, guard Quinn Cook and forward Alfonzo McKinnie are the only Lakers unavailable for practice.

With Davis and James absent from the court, it might be tough to gather clues as to who will be in Vogel’s starting five this season. James and Davis are the names we know for sure, but how much Davis will play center is still a little unclear. Davis said he’d do it in “certain cases.”

LeBron James admitted he was hurt by comments from ex-teammate Kyrie Irving, who referred to himself as ‘the best option for every team I played for down the stretch.’

Dec. 8, 2020

“This season is a lot different from any other as well; I would say last season was different from any season. But we’ll mix it in, take it game by game and see what happens,” Davis said. “We were very successful when I was at the five, so maybe it’s something we still kind of wait for the playoffs again, then over the course of the season kind of toy with it game by game.”


Finding some kind of balance is high on Vogel’s wish list.

“That’s something that will play out over the course of the season. But we’d still like to have a blend of A.D. playing at the four as well as playing at the five,” Vogel said. “Our ability to shift back and forth last year in the playoffs was pivotal and important to us winning the championship. It’s something that we’ll balance again this season.”

With the season set to begin in two weeks, even the Lakers players in contention to start alongside James and Davis appear to be in the dark. Outside of guard Dennis Schroder, who said he expects to be a starter after conversations between his representation and Lakers management, things seem like they’re still in flux.

“I have no clue,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “Every practice that we’ve had, he mixed up the lineups — both first team and second team. Like, everybody has been all over the place. So there’s no real clear [idea] on who is starting or how it’s going to look this season.”

No clue? Just speculation? Sounds about right for a season like this.