There's been a lot of fuss made about the Brooklyn Nets' most recent roster moves, signing both Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge on the buyout market. They've been called villains, and people are upset that players like Griffin are making the game "unfair." Well, the Nets aren't bothered by any of the criticism, with head coach Steve Nash saying the team "didn't do anything illegal" by signing those former All-Stars.
Although the Nets are built like the Monstars in "Space Jam" -- after signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019 and trading for James Harden at the start of this season -- the defending champion Lakers aren't concerned at all. In fact, team owner Jeanie Buss welcomes the challenge.
"It brings out the best in us," Buss said on ESPN's Stephen A's World. "When teams identify us as the team to beat and they gear up to go at us head-to-head, that makes us work harder. So, bring it on."
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While the Lakers haven't been as dominant as they were a season ago -- injuries to stars like Anthony Davis and LeBron James have hindered them -- they're still the defending champions and have a target on their back. Although L.A. made no big moves at the trade deadline, it did add big man Andre Drummond to shore up the frontcourt, which has been a weak area for the Lakers this season.
"The addition of Andre Drummond, who we picked up in the buyout market, will certainly fortify a season where we've had to deal with injuries and COVID," Buss said. "Having Marc Gasol, who is our starting center, was out for several weeks with COVID and a really tough case where he was on a minutes restriction even though he's back in the lineup."
The Lakers currently sit fourth in the West, behind the Jazz, Suns and Clippers, and with injuries to their franchise pieces its been difficult for Los Angeles to challenge the top three teams in the Western Conference. However, just because the Lakers find themselves in an unfamiliar position in the standings doesn't mean that either Davis or James will be rushed back soon to get that top seed.
"That's what's important, is they get back healthy -- 100 percent healthy -- before they come back so that they stay healthy for the playoffs," Buss said.
The Lakers are built for the playoffs, and while it isn't ideal for both Davis and James to be sidelined for several weeks, it does give them both a chance to rest up in a compact season before the postseason begins.