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Coronavirus: Orlando bubble a 'mental test' for Lakers – Pelinka

By Sacha Pisani

Los Angeles, July 1: Los Angeles Lakers vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka believes the NBA restart in the Orlando bubble will be a "mental test".

The NBA season is set to resume on July 30 after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Orlando's Disney World complex will host 22 teams, with LeBron James' Lakers headlining the league's comeback against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30 after the New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on the same day.

The Lakers topped the Western Conference with a 49-14 record prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

"I think Orlando itself is going to be as much of a mental test as it is a physical test just because of the extraordinary circumstances there," Pelinka said on a video conference call on Tuesday (June 30).

"I think a team like ours, that has such a strong togetherness component, will have an advantage at that part. This team of guys love being together and love playing together. I think that's the significant part of the [first] 63 games."

Pelinka, whose Lakers will be without Avery Bradley after he opted out of the restart, added: "We have put a ton of thought into the mental part of this journey. It is going to be as much as a physical grind as it's going to be a mental grind.

"And I think the mental component might even be more paramount. And so, yes ... we have mental wellness people on staff here and we've been working with them on developing a protocol to address some of the concerns that are going to come up from an extended time away from family or an extended time living in a city that's not your home."

The Lakers had gone 8-2 after the All-Star break, with James and team-mate Anthony Davis leading the way for the storied Los Angeles franchise, who have not won a championship since 2010.

"I think that we're in a unique situation where we've had such a strong chemistry, such a strong team chemistry, that I think that platform is going to be seamless in terms of guys jumping on and being part of that identity and chemistry that we already had formed," Pelinka said.

"I don't see that changing at all with the new additions, just because it's such a strong identity."

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Story first published: Wednesday, July 1, 2020, 7:50 [IST]
Other articles published on Jul 1, 2020
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