So last night the word came down that many had been expecting (and ESPN probably partied once more): LeBron James agreed to become a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
So the NBA is now shaken up cross country as there is no more major favorite in the East save Philadelphia and Boston while many would pen them as being inept to any team that the West would throw out in the Finals. Or that’s what has been said (and maybe true). So I will look at different thoughts and angles of this signing and the effect it has on LeBron, the Lakers, the Cavaliers, the Western Conference, and the Eastern Conference and whatever else.
(1) LEBRON LOOKED AT EVERYTHING, NOT JUST WINNING, ON SIGNING HIS NEXT TEAM: If the rumors were true that he wanted to make sure that he wants what’s best for his family while looking at post-NBA future (i.e. joining the entertainment industry in LA), this was obvious. And I’m not saying James doesn’t want to win. He does. But he’s 33 and he signed a contract that may be his last as when he’s done he will hit 37. I don’t see him being one that plays one year too long. He will retire on top of his game. And anywhere he went he would make an instant contender even if it is the Hawks or Kings. And I think right now while he could still rule the East with Cleveland and he would have more of an issue with Golden State, Houston, and MAYBE Oklahoma City he’s still in the mix. But being in Los Angeles is where he’s at which makes sense instead of staying in Cleveland or going to Philadelphia. And if it was the money, he’d definitely stay put with the Cavaliers.
(2) THE CAVALIERS FRONT OFFICE PROBABLY WAS THE DECIDING FACTOR: James and the Cavs management seemed to have their differences over the last couple of seasons. It seemed like the Cavs management was tired of giving into LeBron and LeBron was equally frustrated of the Cavaliers possibly tuning him out with his demands and it sounds like James and owner Dan Gilbert weren’t keen with each other. If you go to work for a guy you don’t really care for, and know that there may be something else out there, you probably would want to leave too. I personally wished LeBron would have stayed in Cleveland, but after thinking about it, I can see why he left.
(3) THE WESTERN CONFERENCE IS STILL GOLDEN STATE’S (FOR NOW): The Lakers have a young corps and honestly, if they keep that group in tact, it would be stronger than any team LeBron has played with in a long time. Why would they have to trade Brandon Ingram? Why would they have to trade Kyle Kuzma? Why would they have to trade Lonzo Ball? Yeah, there are some players they could move (Luol Deng) and get a key piece back, but to me, keeping those guys would be better than saying trading two or three of those guys for Kawhi Leonard. But keep that group together for another couple of seasons and you can have the Lakers back in no time.
(4) ONCE AGAIN, THE CAVALIERS MANAGEMENT MESSED UP WITH LEBRON’S EXODUS AND MAYBE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CONFERENCE: IF Cleveland’s plans in the off-season was to keep LeBron in the mix, they failed again. Now you have a team of players that are possibly past their primes. This is not how to run an NBA squad.
(5) THE CELTICS, SIXERS, AND MAYBE RAPTORS ARE THE HEAVY FAVORITES TO BE THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FAVORITES: And they all play in the same division. Yikes.
(6) THE LAKERS MAY JUST GET ONLY LEBRON INSTEAD OF LEBRON +2 STARS AND IT MAY BE THEIR BEST IDEA YET: Yesterday the Lakers also signed Lance Stephenson and re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It makes getting that 2nd big star through trade or free agency a bit of an issue. However, it also looks like the Lakers are saving for that big star next year. Maybe Kevin Durant joins next season? His new deal has a player option after 2019. It would make more sense to sign him than Kawhi or anybody else. Just saying.
(7) ASSUMING LONZO BALL DOESN’T GET TRADED, WE MAY HEAR MORE AND MORE OF LAVAR BALL’S CHOMPING. Let’s say the Lakers win the championship, two things will happen. 1. Lavar Ball will get tons of face time on ESPN. 2. Lavar Ball will say it is Lonzo, not LeBron, that was instrumental and the team MVP of the Lakers. Prepare yourselves. If the Lakers struggle with LeBron, watch Lavar shift the blame on LeBron and how he needs to fit Lonzo’s game. But hey, ESPN can make an entire hour-long of Sportscenter to Monday Night Raw with it as it isn’t much of a sports highlight show as is anymore.
(8) THE MEDIA NEEDS TO CHILL OUT ALREADY: Bleacher Report jokingly put a meme out that LeBron replaced Kobe as the greatest Laker ever and people have eaten that up. First off, LeBron even if he wins a ring or two with LA, he won’t be the greatest Laker ever. And the other bit is that if you are a true Lakers fan, you view LeBron as a hired gun. He may retire as a Laker, but as a “beloved” Laker like Kobe, Magic, Kareem, Worthy, etc. because those guys stayed around nearly forever in LA. LeBron will be there for four years and quite possibly by that third or fourth year, not play on that high caliber level that we’ve seen for nearly the past 15 years, thus he will not be the greatest Lakers player ever or even come close to it. And if you look around the other sports, we don’t view Deion Sanders as being one of the all-time Cowboy greats as more of that hired gun in the late 90’s for them. Yankees fans had a love/hate relationship with Alex Rodriguez and many don’t view him being a true Yankee. Brett Hull was a hired gun for the Stars and Red Wings and helped win Stanley Cups for both teams. We don’t consider him to be one of the greats in those franchises. So let’s cool it on LeBron being on the same line as the others. We know when the smoke is cleared the greatest Cavaliers player of all-time because of what he did in Cleveland.
(9) BETTER GET YOUR NAPS IN DURING THE DAYTIME: You will see a lot of Western Conference games being televised on TNT and ESPN. I would say you will see all the Lakers/Warriors, Lakers/Rockets, Lakers/Thunder games on those stations as well as the Lakers/Cavaliers for both meetings. Not griping. Just the nature of the beast. But it means you will see far more 10-10:30 games out west than what we’ve seen in the past if you are on the east coast.
Should be an interesting season for sure.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat