10 thoughts on LeBron James committing to the Lakers
Adrian Dy on Jul 02, 2018 01:44 PM
DENVER, CO - MARCH 7: (EDITORS NOTE this image has been converted to black and white) LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on March 7, 2018 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
In the wake of James' decision to take his talents to Hollywood, here are 10 thoughts on how this shakes up the NBA:
1. LeBron James' move to the Lakers is a lot like Kevin Durant's jump to the Warriors, in the sense that it was foreshadowed endlessly by media reports, but didn't really seem like it would happen until it did.
While James himself has not yet publicly commented on the thinking behind his latest free agency decision, we at least know of multiple advantages in favor of the City of Angels: James already has a house there, he can run his burgeoning media empire from there, and of course, the Lakers have that mix of cap space, young talent, and future draft picks that will allow them to craft a title-contending team around him.
2. When LeBron James returned to Cleveland, he promised them a championship. He delivered on said promise in 2016. He probably could have left that offseason, but stuck around for two campaigns. Hopefully, we don't see any jersey burning in the wake of his second exit.
LeBron returned to Cleveland and got that city their very first NBA title. I don't want to see any jerseys being burned ok?— A.D. (@chinoyhoopsfan) July 2, 2018
3. James' exit from the Eastern Conference gives hope to plenty of teams that have long butt heads against the glass ceiling that is LBJ. Right now, the two best positioned to rep the East in the 2019 Finals are the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics, young squads armed with the ammo to add another superstar or two.
At the same time though, you have to wonder how the freedom of a LeBron-less conference can breathe new life into some teams. The top of the mind pick is the Toronto Raptors, who simply could not take down the LeBrontosaurus. Will the upstart Indiana Pacers, who pushed the Cavaliers to seven in the first round, take another step towards joining the upper echelon of squads? How about the Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards, and the Detroit Pistons?
4. What happens next for the Cleveland Cavaliers depends on whether they're willing to push the reset button or not.
On one hand, you can squint and sort of see the Cavs book the eighth seed in the East if things go their way. Collin Sexton might be a star! Minnesota Kevin Love might reemerge! Jordan Clarkson could find his groove! Cedi Osman possibly lives up to his x-factor-ness and then some!
But on the other, especially if the team struggles early, you can also see a scenario where Cleveland sheds contracts like Love, Kyle Korver, and George Hill, to get draft picks. It would be jaw-dropping if they land multiple #1 overall picks again, like their Kyrie Irving-Anthony Bennett-Andrew Wiggins stretch, but hey, crazier things have happened!
5. At the 2018 trade deadline, the Cavaliers sent the Lakers Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a first round pick, in order to take on Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.
While the new additions, plus George Hill and Rodney Hood, gave the team a slight boost heading into the postseason, their relative inexperience showed down the stretch. Clarkson in particular, shot horribly throughout the Playoffs.
But not only did the move not pay dividends for the Cavaliers, by absorbing the Clarkson contract, it gave the Lakers some much needed cap space...to help them sign LeBron James.
Reminder: the Cavs will pay Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and George Hill a combined— Seerat Sohi (@DamianTrillard) July 2, 2018
$65 million over the next two years (with the option to give a QO to Rodney Hood) in exchange for clearing up enough cap space for the Lakers to sign LeBron and another max-contract player.
6. The Lakers, in addition to snapping up James, got commitments from free agents Lance Stephenson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and JaVale McGee. They still have more moves left to make though - do they bring back Julius Randle? How do they handle the Luol Deng contract? Are there any more veterans they can add on the cheap?
And oh yeah, do they make a move for Kawhi Leonard now, later in free agency, during next year's trade deadline, or just wait for him to become a free agent?
7. It'll be interesting to see how Lakers coach Luke Walton gets along with LeBron James. In case you didn't know, Walton was actually drafted in the same year as James, going 32nd overall to LA. Walton is only 38-years-old, compared to James' 33.
Aside from their interpersonal dynamics, it will be interesting to see if getting James will require Walton to tweak his system. The former Golden State Warriors assistant's scheme emphasizes movement, both player and ball. James in contrast, loves to play at a slow pace, holding the ball while reading the court, before making a move.
Given all that we've read in the recent past about James choosing not to exert a ton of energy, in order to save himself for the postseason, we may not get a lot of "Showtime" at Staples in the regular season.
8. Last week, Magic Johnson said that if he didn't land some big free agents, he'd step down after the next two summers.
Safe to say, he won't need to do that anymore.
After all those years of free-agent misses, the Lakers got a big one.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) July 2, 2018
All the meetings that didn’t work out for them (Carmelo, LaMarcus and, in 2014, LeBron) or didn’t happen (Durant two years ago) can be swept away.
The Lakers got LeBron James today.
Johnson and Lakers GM Rob Pelinka deserve a lot of credit for landing LeBron James. Since the disastrous Dwight Howard-Steve Nash deal, the Lake Show had struggled mightily to first get supporting talent for Kobe Bryant's last seasons, and then to rebuild around a new superstar.
All of that is in the past now.
James even gave them the benefit of a whopping four-year deal, after never signing for anything longer than two in his second Cleveland stint (discounting options). Like it or not, this is James' team now, and for the foreseeable future.
9. Boston vs LA is going to be amazing.
This will take some time to adjust. pic.twitter.com/qF9DQmA1si— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 2, 2018
10. We're going to get Lakers versus Warriors four times in the regular season, thanks to them being Pacific Division rivals.
Get your popcorn ready.
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