It’s a bird…It’s a plane…It’s LeBron James!
You know that guy who coined the phrase “Believeland” and has always professed his love for his hometown? Well, it should be renamed to “Leaveland.” Yes, LeBron has left the “land”, A.K.A. Cleveland, once again. This time, it is most likely for good.
He had already delivered a championship to Cleveland, ending the 52-year championship drought back in 2016, so what more did he owe Cleveland?
After being swept by the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals, LeBron ultimately came to the conclusion that his time in Cleveland was up. For anyone who is familiar with James’s track record, you would know switching teams is nothing new.
On July 1, LeBron James made the decision to sign a four-year max deal with the Los Angeles Lakers worth $154 million. Once again, LeBron’s decision rocks the NBA.
A bevy of players reacted to the move. Kobe Bryant welcomed LeBron to the family via Twitter and NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also congratulated him; other NBA legends did the same.
Despite the acquisition of the three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP, the Lakers are still unlikely to make the Finals. Why? Well, LeBron is 33-years-old and he’s not getting any younger. Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Lance Stephenson are quality help for James, but it will certainly take time for these guys to complement the young core already in Los Angeles and be ready for playoff time. There’s no telling if LeBron alone will be enough for the Lakers.
Paul George seemed like a likely candidate to play alongside James. However, the Lakers were unsuccessful in acquiring him. George appeared to have Lakers down as a serious consideration but never had a meeting with them.
Instead, he decided to resign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. To some, this was expected. What came as a surprise to most people was the fact that Paul George agreed to a four-year max deal, a $137 million contract with OKC.
Few believed George would make such a commitment to OKC, especially after their collapse during the playoffs this past season and his strong connection to Los Angeles.
The Lakers have LeBron, but they will need another star player or two in order to compete among the juggernauts in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, they have missed out on Paul George. However, they still could acquire Kawhi Leonard before the NBA trade deadline.
LeBron and Paul George were not the only marquee players to grab the attention of the sports world. Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins also delivered a shocker when it was announced that he agreed to a one-year, $5.3 million deal to join the reigning NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors.
The most surprising aspect of this acquisition was the manner in which it occurred. Marc Stein, a writer for Yahoo Sports, reported that the Lakers declined a contract with Demarcus Cousins after they signed Rajon Rondo.
By turning down Cousins, the Lakers left the door open for the Warriors to acquire him. Cousins had already declined his contract extension with the Pelicans during the season and the Celtics did not make an offer until after the Warriors had made their move. Essentially, the Warriors signed Cousins to a bargain deal.
Above all, LeBron is now a Laker. It will be interesting to see what he can do with the Lakers next season. Several within the sports dimension are awaiting October to see where he takes this young team. Most importantly, everyone is eager to compare James to former Laker legends like Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson.
This year’s free agency period is definitely one for the ages, mainly because of LeBron’s decision. LeBron James had ruled the Eastern Conference since 2010 (the year he joined the Miami Heat) up until the 2018 season. However, that reign will come to an end because James will now join the Western Conference and don the purple-and-gold.
Who will prevail in the East, now that LeBron is no longer an immediate threat? Celtics? Sixers? Raptors? How much of an impact will James have on these Lakers? Will he be able to bring a championship to Los Angeles like the greats before him?
It is way too early to answer these questions, but we are definitely in for a treat. Time will only tell who will prevail in the East and the West.