LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers: A look ahead
LeBron James; the name evokes a plethora of emotions. He is, similar to how Jordan's bio on the NBA website reads, by acclamation the greatest player on the planet right now. He placed second in the MVP rankings in his 15th season in the NBA. And now he's moving to the Los Angeles Lakers. What does the move mean for him?
Better nightlife? True. But from a basketball standpoint, it means he's moving to the tougher Western Conference with a team of youngsters and no purported All-Star. It also means there's going to be a new team going to the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and a host of other Eastern Conference teams heaved a sigh of relief when the news was announced.
Toronto must've felt especially rejuvenated when it learned that The King no longer plays in the Eastern Conference. Losing to the Cavaliers had consequences including the firing of their then head coach Dwane Casey and the next person in charge will be thanking his stars for the fact that he won't have to face Lebron in the playoffs.
The Lakers have Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma as the next best players after LeBron on the current roster. They have signed Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson. But they need at least another big name signing to match the expectations that fans have for them.
Kawhi Leonard could be that signing. But the Spurs seem adamant to keep him. If Magic Johnson could somehow swing a deal for Kawhi, the Lakers would be in contention for, at least, the conference finals. Adding Kawhi would mean having possibly the best two-way player in the NBA in their roster. It would take some off the scoring load off LeBron. He wouldn't have to guard the opposing team's best player either.
Rob Pelinka, the Lakers' GM has said that he'll surround LeBron with versatile defenders. It'll be a departure from the Cavaliers' strategy of surrounding him with shooters. But it's one that is bound to work better against the Warriors in a potential Western Conference meeting.
Trying to outscore the Warriors is an exercise in futility. The reason the Rockets had some measure of success against them was because of the defense of Ariza, Paul and Tucker. Adding versatile wings to the Lakers will make them a competitive unit. Everyone knows your defense is only as good as your weakest link. So it's imperative that they find and replace weak links on their current roster.
The move is also being talked about as one that purely advances LeBron's strategic and business interests. I, for one, don't agree with this. He certainly gets closer to show business and it will help to promote his brands and his digital content platforms such as his 'Uninterrupted' web series.
His proximity to Hollywood and its stars will definitely help his business pursuits. But It makes plenty of basketball sense, just maybe not the championship kind. LeBron gets to take some minutes off with a bunch of rookies at the helm. He gets to rest and recover in the hopes of having a long season and a longer career.
LeBron has also said that his family factors into his decision making. His family, as would any other, loves to live in LA with the palm trees and the sunshine. His children will have access to better schools and who knows, may end up in UCLA, one of the famed university basketball programs in the US. As evidenced by his vacations and his recent home ownership, LeBron and his family love LA. It is time the city shows them some love too.
While this may not be a championship winning move, it certainly seems to be the right fit for LeBron at this point in his career. Let's hope he makes the most of it.