NBA free agency kicked off on July 1 and all eyes were directed towards LeBron James and The Decision 3.0. He did not make the world wait long. Less than 24 hours into the process, it was officially announced that James would be signing with the Los Angeles Lakers on a 4-year, $154 million deal.
James is a 15-year NBA veteran, and is considered by most parties to be in the conversation for the greatest player of all time. He is a four time NBA MVP, a three time NBA All-star, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and has led his team to the NBA Finals for eight consecutive seasons.
“James has given the city of Cleveland everything he had to offer. He left it all on the table,” said Jared Woodcox, host of the Three-Point Threat Podcast. “He brought that city a championship and can now leave without being depicted as the villain.”
At an age where most players are declining, 33-year old James raised his game to another level last season. He averaged 27.4 points per game, and added on a career high 9.1 assist and 8.6 rebounds.
During the playoffs, James upped his averages to 34 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists as he carried a less-talented Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals, where they were swept by an all-time great Golden State Warriors squad.
James will join a Lakers team that won 37 games last year and has not made the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. While LeBron had been linked to the Lakers for close to a year, many were still confused with the decision because of the current state of the Lakers.
DJ Harris, a student at WSU and former radio host for KWCR, said he believes the decision was made to build his brand.
“After the finals, I don’t think anyone could’ve blamed him for leaving Cleveland,” Harris said. “The fact that he went to LA means he is likely doing this for branding though. If it was strictly basketball, he would’ve gone to Houston, or stayed out East.”
Since the signing of James on Sunday though, the Lakers have made additional moves. Los Angeles has signed Javale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Rajon Rondo to one-year deals.
Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated questioned the logic of the signings in regards to their fit with LeBron.
“If there were one quality vital to building a successful offense around LeBron, it would be spacing,” Mahoney explained. “Yet between Rondo, Stephenson, and Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles now has three ball-dominant guards without the shooting ability to keep defenses honest.”
LeBron James will join Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and Shaquille O’Neal in a long list of major Los Angeles Laker offseason acquisitions. Only time will tell if can he bring a title to L.A. like they did.