LeBron James elected to leave Cleveland, Ohio, for the bright lights and sandy beaches of Los Angeles this summer, as the star forward signed a contract to play for the Lakers.
James inked a four-year, $153.3 million deal with LA, which is vastly different than the “one-and-one” deals he was signing when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The move perplexed many because while young and talented, the Lakers don’t yet possess the necessary pieces to win an NBA championship, even with James on board.
So why did James agree to a long-term commitment with the Purple and Gold? Well, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson revealed that in his meeting with James on the night of June 30, the 33-year-old star was sold on the Lakers’ plan to not rush and build for the long haul.
“I asked him what his expectations are, and he said he understood where we were, as an organization, as a team, and what we’re building,” Johnson said, via USA TODAY. “He was really happy that Rob and I were not rushing, not making mistakes by rushing, and I told him that we had a three-year plan, we had a plan that we wanted to execute and that he could really take that plan to a whole ‘nother level.”
The fact that James will be around for at least three years and probably four gives the Lakers a sense of security that James’ previous teams did not possess. With King James squarely in the fold for the next handful of season, the Lakers don’t have to ship off young stars Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball in order to try and compete with the Golden State Warriors this season.
This likely is why we’ve seen the Lakers back off their pursuit of a Kawhi Leonard trade, as they can just wait and sign him next offseason instead of losing their young talent.
Johnson believes it was the Lakers’ roster and vision that sealed the deal with The King.
“I think that (James) had analyzed our roster,” Johnson said. “He had analyzed the situation, and so he was willing to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to make a long-term commitment to the Laker organization.’ And so that’s what we needed as an organization. And then also, other players around the league can see that, and they’ll be willing to play with him, and come to the Lakers, because they know he’s going to be here. It also helps our players too, their own mindset that he’s going to be here as well.”
It’ll be interesting to see if James stays patient throughout the season, especially if the Lakers struggle. But for now, he’s all-in on building something special in LA.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images
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