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LeBron James says Lakers aren't on Warriors level yet

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-09-25 05:00:16

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Speaking with an all-business tone in his first press conference with his new team, LeBron James said the Los Angeles Lakers have "a long way to go" before getting on the same level as the Golden State Warriors.

James says he is excited to play alongside multiple ballhandlers but understands the Lakers may have to take their "bumps and bruises" early with so many new pieces.

"We got a long way to go to get to Golden State," James said when asked if the Lakers can challenge the two-time defending champs. "They can pick up right where they left off, starting with training camp. ... We are picking up from scratch so we got a long way to go. We can't worry about what Golden State is doing. ... They've been together for a few years now."

"We are all new to each other, we have to take our bumps and our bruises," James added. "There are going to be good times and bad times. If we continue to work the process and continue to sacrifice for one another and put in the commitment and time to being great, everything else will fall into place."

This was the first time James has spoken to the Los Angeles media since signing with the Lakers in free agency in July. He had a serious tone in his press conference, something head coach Luke Walton says he has seen from James at the practice facility this summer.

"He knows what time it is. ... He's setting the tone that it's time to come to work," Walton said. "... There is definitely that look that I've seen before with somebody else I have played with before that knows the season is coming up soon."

Walton, who played alongside Kobe Bryant, was asked who that person could be.

"Ronny Turiaf," Walton cracked.

Walton says he has written down several different lineups and wants to see how these different groups work together in camp. The Lakers added the likes of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee in the offseason. The Lakers have multiple ballhandlers with James, Rondo, Stephenson, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, to go with plenty of depth.

Walton said even when it comes to small ball and potential lineups with a smaller center, Walton has three or four combinations in mind with the Lakers wanting to run and push the pace as much as possible.

But all the pieces will revolve around the one sure thing the Lakers know they have in James, who has gone to eight straight NBA Finals.

"We have the best player in the league," Ball said when asked how much things have changed from a year ago. "And expectations are a lot higher now."

James was asked if there is anything that creates pressure for him at this stage of his career.

"Nothing," James said.

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