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Dennis Schroder says he intends to start at point guard for Los Angeles Lakers

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LOS ANGELES — LeBron James could be one and done playing the 1 for the Los Angeles Lakers. The newly acquired Dennis Schroder said he intends to start at point guard for the defending champions.

“I did this off the bench stuff already in two years with OKC,” Schroder finished second behind teammate Montrezl Harrell for Sixth Man of the Year for his role with the Oklahoma City Thunder, said on an introductory videoconference call with reporters Monday. “I think I try to move forward, and I think with [Anthony Davis] and LeBron, I can be helpful as a starter in the PG position.”

Schroder said that he has not spoken to Lakers coach Frank Vogel about his desire to start, however his representatives, Alex Saratsis and Jeff Austin of Octagon, discussed that aspect with the Lakers front office prior to L.A.’s trading guard Danny Green and the No. 28 pick in the draft to the Thunder to complete the deal.

“I think my agent talked to the organization before they was trading me,” he said “So, that’s that.”

The Lakers have not settled upon their starting lineup, sources told ESPN. Though Schroder will be considered for the starting point guard spot, he could also be asked to fill in off the bench, sources said.

James, who turns 36 next month, led the league in assists for the first time in his career last season, averaging 10.2 per game, and led L.A. to the title while shifting from his traditional position of small forward to point guard.

Although James has always played with the ball in his hands — playing the unofficial point forward position — the change did affect his scoring. His points per game dipped from 27.4 in his first season in L.A. to 25.3, and his shot attempts per game were cut from 19.9 to 19.4.

Schroder, who averaged 18.9 points and four assists per game as Chris Paul‘s backup for the Thunder last season, said he can alleviate some of James’ responsibilities as the four-time champion enters into his 18th season. “LeBron don’t have (to have) so much stuff in his mind,” Schroder said. “I can bring it up, call a set play or whatever and put him in a position to score. I think him to play off-the-ball, I mean, is I think great. I think that’s the reason why they brought me in.”

If Schroder does start, Vogel will have to get creative with the backup point guard role, based on the Lakers’ current roster construction. Rajon Rondo, who was the primary backup last season, signed with the Atlanta Hawks as a free agent. And the Lakers waived Quinn Cook, who also played the position.

L.A. is entering training camp with two other ball handlers in Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker on the reserve roster, but no players who have traditionally identified as a point guard. The Lakers also signed Zavier Simpson to an Exhibit 10 contract, which would offer him a $50,000 bonus to play for the Lakers’ G League team, the South Bay Lakers, if he does not make the roster. Simpson averaged 7.9 assists per game as a senior at the University of Michigan.

Schroder is in the final year of his contract and will make $15.5 million this season. He was asked if he viewed the Lakers as a long-term fit.

“End of the day, I just try to focus on this year,” he said. “But if it’s a fair deal and everything goes right, then, of course, I think long term. But I just try to lock in now for this season, take it day by day and let’s see if we come to an agreement on that.”

The eight-year veteran was in his native Germany when the trade with the Lakers was consummated. He has since relocated to L.A. with his wife and two young children. He took a break from a workout on the court at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, California, on Monday to conduct the videoconference on the phone, while wearing a purple Lakers’ shirt and yellow headband.

“It’s an honor to be here in this organization,” Schroder said. “I think they brought me in for a reason. You know, we’ll try to get the repeat. I think for this organization, winning 17 championships, this history is big-time. And to be in the biggest platform in the NBA, biggest team, biggest organization, I think I’m excited. I’m honored that I’m here. And I can’t wait to get started.”

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Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving committed to jelling with James Harden

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NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have “conviction” about the direction of the team in the wake of the trade to land James Harden and are prepared to make the necessary on-court sacrifices.

Marks said he consulted the franchise’s stars as the Nets began to move swiftly toward a trade for Harden on Wednesday.

“[I was] getting their thoughts and really wanting to hear what their commitment was going to be, what their conviction was,” Marks said in a news conference Thursday. “I enjoyed hearing that conviction, and we’ve got some time to see how it translates on the court.”

Harden, who is scheduled to arrive in New York on Thursday, will be eligible to play once he and all the other players involved in the multiteam deal have undergone a physical examination. Once Harden is cleared, the focus turns to how the Nets’ new Big Three will jell on the court and how their supersized personalities will mesh off of it. Marks said that he didn’t have to broach the subject of touches and making it work on the floor with Harden, Durant and Irving — instead, they brought it up to him.

“At the end of the day, that’s what we need to hear,” Marks said. “And that’s the level of sacrifice and these guys know it. And each one of these guys is capable of, you know, leading a team, being the star player on a team and so forth. And, you know, there will be nights when each one has that opportunity. Maybe two or three have that opportunity on any night.”

With games being crammed in every other night most weeks — and Brooklyn trying to balance practice, rest and film sessions — Marks said that the actual games, in many ways, will have to serve as their practice. Marks added that he is banking on Harden’s previous connections with his Brooklyn teammates to expedite the process. Durant and Harden played together in Oklahoma City, and Harden played with Jeff Green with the Thunder and with the Rockets.

While Harden’s tenure in Houston came to a bumpy end — with him publicly declaring the Rockets “just aren’t good enough” and “it’s something I don’t think can be fixed” — Marks said that the six-time All-Star reassured him that, “I want to win. I am all about winning.”

Marks said that he feels Durant, Irving and Harden have given him “the right answers” to the locker room and basketball puzzles they could face.

“They’ve said, ‘Hey, we want to play together,'” Marks said. “I let them have their own voice — but I think they understand that there’s without a doubt going to be some nights where one or two need to sacrifice for the other and so forth. I think they’re all looking for a common goal. We’re all looking for that common goal.”

That goal is to win a championship — and soon. As part of the Harden deal, Brooklyn will not control any first-round draft picks for the next seven years. Some compare this to 2013 when the Nets mortgaged their future in draft picks to get Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. However, the Nets at the time did not have a Durant-type player on their roster.

“We’re not bankrupt right now,” Marks said. “There’s still multiple ways to build, and we will continue to build with or without the picks we may or may not have now.”

He added: “We also need to capitalize on the window and what’s in front of us right now.”

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Zion Williamson cleared to resume activities with New Orleans Pelicans

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Zion Williamson was cleared Thursday to return to team activities.

The New Orleans Pelicans forward missed Wednesday night’s game against the LA Clippers because of inconclusive COVID-19 test results and because the results of subsequent testing weren’t going to come back until after the game.

The Pelicans received word Thursday that Williamson was allowed to return to team activities, and he is set to play in Friday night’s contest against the Los Angeles Lakers. Without Williamson in the lineup, the Pelicans lost to the Clippers, 111-106.

Williamson, who played in only 24 games last season, averaged 21.9 points and 8.1 rebounds in the Pelicans’ first nine games this year. Wednesday’s game was the first he had missed this season.

The Pelicans could still be without two starters on Friday, however. Lonzo Ball (bilateral knee tendinopathy) and Eric Bledsoe (right eye irritation) also missed the game against the Clippers. The injury report for Friday’s game has not yet been updated with the status of either player.

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Indiana Pacers-Phoenix Suns game on Saturday postponed

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Saturday’s game between the Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena has been postponed, the NBA announced Thursday.

Because of ongoing contact tracing within the Suns, the team does not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with the Pacers.

That brings the leaguewide total to nine games postponed since Sunday and 10 overall this season.

The Suns’ game against the Hawks on Wednesday also was postponed.

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