NBA Free Agency 2018: The Los Angeles Lakers are back
Magic Johnson said he would step down if he couldn't land any elite free agents for the Lakers during the next 2 summers. The Lakers President did not mess around. LeBron James and the Lakers agreed to a 4-year deal worth 154M.
The Lakers won only 35 games last season and were placed 11th in the Western Conference. But with LeBron James on the roster, the Lakers jumped from 20/1 to win the title to 7/2. The Lakers are not only relevant again, they look like a team that can win a championship. LeBron James single-handedly changed the scenario of the entire league. If you've been watching the NBA for the last 10 years or so, you know you cannot bet against LeBron James' team under any circumstances.
He is the best player in the world at the moment. Plain and simple. He carried a mediocre Cleveland team last season to the NBA Finals. (Averaging around 34 Points Per Game during the playoffs) and statistically, he should've won the MVP award for his regular season heroics. Offensively, we have never seen LeBron James play so efficiently and one could argue that the last season ( his 15th ) was his best since he was drafted #1 overall by Cleveland back in 2003.
The Lakers signed JaVale McGee (C), Lance Stephenson (SF/SG) and Rajon Rondo (PG), all for 1-year deals. Kentavious Caldwell Pope has opted to return to the Lakers after agreeing to a 1-year deal. All the three 1 year acquisitions are low-risk propositions for the Lakers. They can clear cap space for the summer of 2019 to make new trades and signings if necessary.
JaVale McGee (previous team - Golden State Warriors) has won back-to-back Championships with the Warriors and he has proved that he could be a dependable big man who can set screens, play as a rim protector and be a lob threat.
Lance Stephenson ( previous team- Indiana Pacers) is widely known as the LeBron antagonist but they will share the Lakers locker room next season. This is an interesting move by the Lakers. Lance Stephenson will surely provide some value coming off the bench and provide flexibility to the Lakers roster.
Rajon Rondo ( previous team - New Orleans Pelicans) is one of the smartest guys in the NBA today. He is known for his high-basketball IQ (that will compliment LeBron's playing style) and is a gifted passer who can average 10 assists per game.
All 3 of these guys are veterans who have enough playoff experience and will be great coming off the bench and providing valuable minutes or start the game if the need arises. They provide balance to this young Lakers core of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. However, Julius Randle and Isiah Thomas are already set to move out.
The Lakers will also try to trade for the 2-time Defensive Player of The Year and 2014 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers, however, will have to give up on at least 2 or 3 of their young players along with 1 or 2 Draft Picks. It would make sense for the Lakers to trade Ingram, Hart and 2 Draft Picks for Kawhi Leonard. Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma should be off the tables. If the Lakers are able to sign Kawhi Leonard, get ready for the 2018 version of Jordan-Pippen. They can either trade for Kawhi this summer or wait till he becomes a free agent.
The new-look Lakers are 100% playoff bound ( after missing the playoffs for the last 5 years). They have added a lot of smart pieces, playoff experience wise and have young players that LeBron can rely on. The Lakers should finish in the top 4 in the highly competitive Western Conference ( home of probably top 10 out of the top 15 players in the NBA). The Lakers may not win the championship this year but they will be challenging the (overpowered) Warriors who now have 5 All-Stars in their team after signing DeMarcus Cousins from the Pelicans.
The Lakers are going to make the playoffs this year and show the world that they are a force but in the next year, they will be in a position to edge out Houston and push past the Warriors. They have set the groundwork to win a championship in the next 2 season when they will make a bid for superstars like Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins to play alongside LeBron James. Everything is in place. It's time for the Lakers to show why they're the biggest brand in basketball history.