LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Lakers' dismal start to the NBA season should come as no surprise and the revamped team need more time to gel, LeBron James' former team mate Dwyane Wade told Reuters.
Los Angeles' bold offseason moves, which included the addition of veterans Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony and the departure of Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, have resulted in a disappointing 8-7 record that has left the Lakers seventh in the Western Conference.
James has missed seven games, including Monday's blowout home loss to the Chicago Bulls, with an abdominal strain and a frustrated Anthony Davis recently said the 2020 title winners were not "a championship team right now".
"The biggest thing they need to do is all be healthy and play a lot of minutes together," Wade, who retired in 2019, said in Los Angeles while promoting his new photographic memoir, "DWYANE".
"They had training camp and you expect, what? Just because they're great players, for them to dominate the game? It doesn't work like that," he said.
"It takes time for everybody to find their roles, find their comfort, and understand the sacrifice that's needed."
James is not the only important piece out of action for the purple and gold. Trevor Ariza, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves have also been sidelined with injuries and missed Monday's contest.
"It hurts you when guys are in and out of the lineup," Wade said.
"They need to all be healthy together and play minutes together. Then we'll be able to see a little bit more of this team."
Wade, who won three championships with the Heat including two with James when they famously banded together with Chris Bosh to form the "Big Three" in Miami in 2010, said he is still in regular contact with James.
"We both reach out and find each other when need be. Our lives are obviously way different, but we have a connection," he said.
"We both love wine, so we get together every now and then and drink some wine and catch up."
Wade's book captures his peaks both on and off the court, chronicling the Chicago-native's rise to basketball superstardom, his marriage to actress Gabrielle Union and his busy life since retiring, which includes being a partial owner of the Utah Jazz.
"Once you've achieved everything as a player, the only thing to reach for in the game of basketball is to work your way up the business side," Wade said of his decision to purchase a stake in the Jazz in April.
He said he hopes his executive position, which stems from his relationship with billionaire businessman and Jazz majority owner Ryan Smith, will lead to more former players doing the same.
"I think we'll see more of it," he said.
"There's a separation between ownership and players and a lot of that is because owners come in and they own real estate or they own other businesses.
"They don't eat, sleep and breathe basketball. So the connection is not there, they don't understand what you go through as a player, just like we don't understand their world.
"So to have more players involved would definitely help bridge that gap."
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles Editing by Toby Davis)