Saturday, July 7, 2018
Saturday Slam: Can LeBron James deliver a title to Los Angeles?
Like every summer, NBA free agency has been wild. Lots of unexpected moves have happened and I aim to address many of these moves in the coming weeks. If there's one move that I need to first address, it's LeBron James' decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers on a four-year, $154M deal. Joining James in Los Angeles will be former adversary Lance Stephenson and journeyman point guard Rajon Rondo, who both agreed to free agent deals with the Lakers shortly after James.
James' decision to leave Cleveland for Los Angeles could produce the most interesting chapter of his career, but only if he wins a championship. James cannot finish his career in Los Angeles without winning a ring if he wants any hope of improving his legacy. He knows this and seems up to the challenge.
The biggest hurdle standing in James' way is the Golden State Warriors, who appear poised to win the NBA championship for the next three years. The Warriors have a proven championship formula in place while the Lakers have a lot of question marks outside of James. Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson are both curious additions to say the least. While both guys are talented, I could easily see them not producing the desired results that James hopes they will. They both have a history of creating some friction in NBA locker rooms and have only really found success in one environment, Rondo in Boston and Stephenson in Indiana. While adding both Rondo and Stephenson, the Lakers lost Julius Randle to the New Orleans Pelicans, a guy who many felt had the chance to be a key piece for the franchise going forward.
Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are both talented pieces who should promise to get better over the coming seasons. While there are rumors of the Lakers possibly moving Ingram and/or Ball in order to get Kawhi Leonard, I personally think it would be wise for them to keep both of those guys around. They shouldn't make the mistake the Cleveland Cavaliers made, which was to trade a young promising player (Andrew Wiggins) for a more established veteran (Kevin Love). With those two guys learning from James, the Lakers can be assured that they'll be in good hands after his departure.
While there are still a lot of pieces that need to fall into place, I personally believe LeBron James can deliver a title to Los Angeles. As we saw in Cleveland, he doesn't need much around him to make things competitive and with a better cast around him, it would be foolish to rule out his chances. He's too talented to dismiss and given that he has four years to make it happen, I think there are good odds he'll strike it rich at least once.
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