Waiters, Smith altering Lakers chemistry in positive way, says Vogel
Dion Waiters (L) and JR Smith in the Orlando NBA Campus

Waiters, Smith altering Lakers chemistry in positive way, says Vogel

Alder Almo (Philstar.com) - July 18, 2020 - 1:38pm

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey — With their backcourt depth taking a hit, the Los Angeles Lakers are willing to take a leap of faith on Dion Waiters and JR Smith.

The Lakers will be without key contributors Rajon Rondo (thumb injury) and Avery Bradley (voluntary sit out) when they resume their title bid in the Disney restart,
but coach Frank Vogel is optimistic his two new players are ready to step in.

“They both bring toughness and swag. Those guys are killers,” Vogel said during the Lakers zoom call with reporters on Friday.

“They go after it with great competitive spirit and they have the talent to back it up and be highly productive on the court. They’ve proven that throughout their careers,” he added.

Waiters and Smith definitely have the talent but their checkered past forced them to become outcasts until the Lakers gave them another lease on life.

Smith, who was shelved by his former team Cleveland Cavaliers after getting frustrated with reduced role, has not played since 2018. Waiters, on the other hand, has only logged 42 minutes with the Miami Heat in a turbulent season marred by injuries and suspensions.

“They are being asked to come in our already strong locker room where our chemistry has been our strength of ours this year and to fit in and contribute in a positive way. Every time you introduce a new personality into your group, it could alter your personality. And their goal is to come in here and make sure if it’s altered, it’s altered in a positive way. So far, both of those guys have that mindset and have done a great job fitting in and contributing with a positive attitude,” Vogel said.

Particularly, Waiters was impressive in practice according to Vogel. He was so impressed that he told reporters last Monday that Waiters is “one of the more talented guys in the league.”

Waiters was supposed to have his Lakers debut last March but the pandemic got in the way. With minutes opening up in Rondo’s absence, Waiters has long been waiting for this moment.

“I’ve been there before, I’ve been in this position plenty of times,” he said. “I think I’m ready.”

Waiters worked out at his own gym in his garage during the hiatus to stay in shape.

Smith, for his part, is just happy to be back on court.

“Being around a bunch of guys who love to win, love to have fun in a practice atmosphere. Being around the trainers and coaches… I know how to be me,” Smith said. “And I’m very comfortable. And it felt so good to get back to that.”

The Lakers will open the NBA restart on July 30 against their crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers.

 Postcript: The NBA and VIDAA USA, Inc. yesterday announced a multiyear partnership to make NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live game subscription service, available for purchase on all Hisense and Toshiba TVs through the VIDAA smart TV platform. Beginning with the 2020-21 NBA season, more than 20 million users of VIDAA-enabled smart TVs across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East will be able to purchase NBA League Pass and watch hundreds of live NBA games each season through the VIDAA platform. 

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