By: Trey Mitchell
LeBron James had signed a 4 year $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers will pair James with guard Lonzo Ball and forward Brandon Ingram. With LeBron will come a plethora or veterans to surround the 4 time NBA MVP. Shooting is a key for the Lakers, as James excels at driving into the paint and finding the open man for a 3. The Lakers will instantly be title contenders, with the team now having 7/2 odds to win the finals.
This move from LeBron James was not about basketball. If it was, there would be many teams above the Lakers that could contend now. What this move by James means is that he’s focused on life after basketball. James has his own multimedia network called The Undefeated, and will most definitely have an interest in the Hollywood aspect of Los Angeles. James is set to star in the upcoming film Space Jam 2. The last film that the King had a decent role in was Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.
While the Lakers aren’t necessarily the most “win now” team that LeBron could have signed with, the team is filled with assets and young pieces. Ball, and Ingram are both 20 years old. Kyle Kuzma is 22 (he played four years of college).
One question the Lakers will find themselves asking is what to do at the center position. There have been rumors that the team may look to sign Center DeMarcus Cousins to a one year deal. Another player that would make sense is Nerlens Noel. The team could also choose to bring back Julius Randle and play him at the center spot, however this becoming increasingly unlikely. Chris Haynes of ESPN reported tonight that the Los Angeles Lakers are bringing back guard Kentavious Caldwell Pope on a one year, $12 million contract. KCP will essentially play the J.R. Smith role for the Lakers.
With the signing of LeBron James comes a shift in the NBA. The Western Conference is suddenly even more loaded. The Lakers, Suns, and Mavericks all got significantly better this summer. A team like the Nuggets that didn’t make the playoffs last season is a shoe-in this year if healthy.
Meanwhile, things are easier in the Eastern Conference now that the King has left his kingdom. Teams like the Toronto Raptors are rejoicing now that the man who pretty much owned the whole city of Toronto will no longer be their opponent in the playoffs (unless they make the finals). Both the Celtics and 76ers will be at the top of the Eastern Conference to start the season. If the Lakers somehow make the finals, there’s a good chance LeBron will find himself matched up against his old teammate Kyrie Irving. It’s safe to say that the Lakers Celtics rivalrty is back.
While the city of Cleveland has to be in mourning tonight, things are different than they were the first time LeBron left in 2010. He won the city of Cleveland its first championship since 1964 (the Browns). James delivered what he promised: to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland.
I hope that this time around, fans will understand that this wasn’t about basketball. This was about life. We saw how hard it was this past season for James. The team around him was just not very good. While the Lakers (some may argue) are not a lot better, they’re in Los Angeles. LeBron is going to be more happy there. His sons have a better chance to develop into NBA players while playing in Los Angeles, where the competition is higher. His wife Savannah seems to enjoy the LA area. The family already owns a house there.
This moment in history, as many do while they’re happening, feels a bit surreal. Just weeks ago we watched LeBron James put on that Cavaliers jersey and fight his ass off just for his team to get swept by the Golden State Warriors. While we all knew this was James’ likely path, but now the future has become the present: LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker.
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