[Elliott Glass is back with a great piece about one of the big blockbuster trades of the NBA offseason. Everyone was waiting to see what Lebron was going to do and, following a late night chat with Magic, he is now heading to Los Angeles. LA hasn’t been this excited about basketball since Showtime.]
Lebron James is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. And so as the NBA free agent period launched, all eyes were focused on Ohio and what would happen with King James. Would he stay in Cleveland? What players would have to be added to the roster? Would he leave Ohio, but only look at teams within the Eastern Conference? How would the salary cap feature in any approach? The answers came in fast with Lebron opting out of his Cleveland contract and then, in short order, signing a 4-year deal worth $154 million with the Lakers.
There are several positives surrounding the decision by James to go to the Lakers. First, it is one of the iconic franchises in the NBA. Second, many players may find it attractive to have a chance to play with Lebron and do so with a high visibility franchise like the Lakers. Finally, once the issue of Kawhi Leonard’s future is settled, they will have salary cap that they can use to surround Lebron with the talent he needs to succeed.
On the downside, the decision to move into the Western Conference makes it very challenging for Lebron to make it to the Finals. He will have to get past a very talented Houston and, if you can believe it, an improved Golden State. Demarcus Cousins (a.k.a Boogie Cousins) is a very strong offseason addition to an already incredible team. In addition, Lebron is aging and has a basketball body that is even older than his years. He can’t backpack a team to the Finals, needs a strong supporting cast and it may take several years to put those roster pieces in place.
Some people argue that the decision really wants about basketball, but had more to do with his family and lifestyle decisions surrounding LA. It is possible. However, we don’t think Lebron has given up on winning more championships and is plotting a multi-year strategy with Magic to deliver the 17th championship to this storied Lakers franchise. It may not happen in 2019, but it may well happen in the next 4 years.