EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Speaking with an all-business tone in his first news 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 said he is excited to play alongside multiple ball handlers, but he understands the Lakers might 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."
While James was subdued during his appearance, he broke into a big smile later when asked about the health of his right hand, which he hurt following the Cleveland Cavaliers' overtime loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals to Golden State.
"My hand's great," James told ESPN. "A hundred percent, back to a hundred percent."
This was the first time James has spoken to Los Angeles media since signing with the Lakers in free agency in July. He had a serious tone in his news conference, something Lakers head coach Luke Walton said 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.
Speaking of former Lakers, Walton told ESPN's Dave McMenamin that he has consulted with both Bryant and Phil Jackson regularly throughout the offseason to fine-tune his approach to coaching this season.
Walton also said 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 several ball handlers in 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, he 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 consecutive 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.
While James committed to L.A. when free agency opened up months ago, he said his decision hit him much harder Monday.
"Today is actually the first time that it's felt real -- putting on the uniform, seeing all the guys in the locker room, being out on this floor and doing media day," James told ESPN. "Today is really the first day it felt real, like, 'You are a Los Angeles Laker.'"
ESPN's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.