At his introductory press conference as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, No. 17 pick Jalen Hood-Schifino was told by a reporter that he was just seven years old when new teammate LeBron James was drafted in 2003. The guard responded by calling James “old.”
Jalen Hood-Schifino says he saw the ESPN graphic on draft night that showed he was seven days old when LeBron was drafted and his reaction was:
"Dang, LeBron is old." 😂
— Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand) June 27, 2023
If anyone thought Hood-Schifino was disrespecting the 38-year-old, he clarified that wasn’t, and that he is grateful for the opportunity to be on the same team as James.
Hood-Schifino is a 6-foot-6 guard from Indiana University who has a nice midrange game, strong ball-handling and facilitating skills and the ability to effectively guard players at multiple positions. Executive Rob Pelinka feels that even though he isn’t a great 3-point shooter, he can become one due to his work ethic and character, just as Austin Reaves has this season.
The Lakers are also reportedly optimistic that Hood-Schifino will do well while sharing the backcourt with Reaves.
After 20 seasons, James hinted that he may be considering retirement this summer. However, just about everyone expects him back in a Purple and Gold uniform this fall, and some even feel his comment was a subtle ploy to get the team to upgrade the roster around him.
Although he was hampered by two foot ailments starting in January, he put up his usual eye-popping numbers and became the NBA’s all-time leading career scorer in February by moving past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former Lakers superstar.
If Hood-Schifino turns out to be the type of guard who will take some pressure off an aging James, the team can turn its attention to keeping its own free agents and possibly adding a piece or two.
Reaves, as well as D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura and a number of other players, are about to hit the open market. In particular, Reaves could end up getting a huge offer, and the Lakers will have to find the resources, not to mention the willingness, to match any offer he receives, no matter how large it is.