SACRAMENTO – The Miami Heat face the Los Angeles Lakers tonight in their second summer league game. No, LeBron James will not be wearing a Lakers uniform, but he will be on their players’ minds.
James is taking his talents to Hollywood after agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Lakers. The Lakers’ summer league team was in Sacramento when the news broke and it jolted two of LeBron’s future teammates out of bed.
Second year guard Josh Hart and first-round draft pick Mortiz Wagner both said they were chillin’ when they heard LeBron was coming to L.A.
“I was laying down in my hotel room,,” Hart said. “I really didn’t know it. …. ‘What they say?’ I was just kind of in shock. I was like, ‘Wow!’ This is the best player in the world coming to L.A. The opportunity to play with someone like that is amazing and it’s something you dream about. I’m anxious to get started.
Of course, Hart may never have that chance. If the Lakers pull off the deal for Kawhi Leonard, Hart could be one of the players headed to the Spurs. The 30th pick in the 2017 draft averaged 7.9 points in 63 games, 23 starts, as a rookie. He scored 23 points Monday in the Lakers’ 98-93 loss to the Kings in their summer league opener, sharing team-high scoring honors with Wagner.
Wagner, taken 25th overall last month, is anxious to watch LeBron as a teammate.
“I found out in my bed in my hotel room,” Wagner said. “Very excited. Anytime you get the chance to work with the greatest of all time in any job I think it’s very exciting and do and be a part of it and to see how he works and competes is exciting.”
Lakers summer league coach Miles Simon said he addressed the organization’s free agency frenzy. After agreeing with James, the Lakers also have brought on Rajon Rondo, Lance Stevenson, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and renounced the rights to Julius Randle, who is headed to New Orleans.
“Before the game I just let them know everybody’s reading the Internet, watching SportsCenter, and it’s an exciting time to be a Laker,” Miles said. “We are one of the greatest franchises in sports history.
“But I told them, ‘Block that all out.’ These next couple of weeks is all about these guys and their journey and how they’re going to start to make their mark and their footprint in the NBA. This is really truly about these guys we have in the locker room wearing this uniform so they can get better and establish themselves as NBA players.”
Meanwhile, Heat summer league coach Eric Glass has no such worries as Miami remains hamstrung this free agency season with a roster that is about $18 million over the salary cap. In fact, Heat president Pat Riley is in Sacramento to watch his young players. Riley, reportedly, is looking at some trades and likely trying to shed some salaries.
Miami’s biggest moves when it comes to free agency will center on their own free agents, Wayne Ellington, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem.