LeBron James is the greatest basketball player that I have ever seen play the game. LeBron can pass, score, rebound, defend, and do anything else that he may want to on a basketball court at an absurdly high level. The scary thing is that he has not shown a great deal of deterioration in his ability to play, if at all. James will turn 34 next season and he has decided that for the next four years of his career, he will play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
This is what many people in the industry have been predicting for two years and it has finally happened. It was not always clear that this was going to happen because things can change. LeBron’s decision is not one that gives him the easiest road to a championship, but it appears that maybe he had other priorities when making this decision and I hope that people respect that. There are always other things to consider for players in the NBA and many of us that follow this league do not always respect that. It is part of the deal for NBA players. Some of the vitriol aimed at Paul George from Laker fans was disturbing.
LeBron being the first to commit to the Lakers is an interesting wrinkle because in his previous two team changes, he had things set up before making the decision. This time around he is joining a Lakers team with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram. Julius Randle is a restricted free agent that may not fit into their plans. They decided to re-sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and have signed Lance Stephenson and Javale McGee. That 7 man rotation is not scaring anybody. The Lakers have cap space and they can add other players. It appears that anyone that they sign is going to get a one year deal so they can prepare for Kawhi’s free agency. Between now and the start of the season the Lakers have a lot of work to do if they hope to be a serious threat to the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.
This move from LeBron is also going to have a huge effect on the Eastern Conference. While the Raptors may have thought about trading Kyle Lowry, with LeBron gone they have to be thinking that this is their year. The Celtics and Sixers are going to be good, but other teams have to feel good about their chances in the East. The Pacers and Pistons are two that come to mind as potential sleepers and that’s before we get to the Bucks with Mike Budenholzer at the helm.
In short, this decision is so huge for the league. There is always so much made about markets and big cities when it comes to players, but it has been a while since the Lakers had the best player in the league. The Lakers are the marquee franchise of the NBA. As much as I disliked them in the past, it is good for the Lakers to be good. They are a fun team to have in important games and if they can get another star, we get four games seeing them take on the Warriors. The NBA is the best sports league in the world. Free agency is such a great time because of moments like this. Great players deciding to try their luck with another franchise. These seismic events literally happen every summer. I love this league.