The Los Angeles Lakers became the biggest winner of the 2018 NBA free agency after signing the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, on a four-year, $153.3 million deal. The acquisition of James made most people believe that the Lakers are finally ready to return to title contention. Unfortunately, as of now, the Lakers are yet to acquire another superstar to pair with James next season.
Instead of using their salary cap space to chase another big name in the free agency market, the Lakers decided to sign three role players – JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Lance Stephenson. The Lakers earned plenty of criticisms with their decision to surround LeBron James with non-shooters, but Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN revealed that it was all part of the plan of James and Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson.
“What Johnson pitched to James was a team stocked with tough-minded playmakers like Stephenson and Rondo who could free up James to finish in the lanes and from the post, rather than having to create the lion’s share of the offense himself. Rondo and Stephenson are also defensively versatile, as their length enables them to be effective defenders in switches. That also follows with the talents of the 6-foot-6 Ball, who showed the ability to be an elite rebounder and defender for a guard in his rookie year.”
Before 2018 free agency started, there were speculations that LeBron James wants to play off the ball, and there is a strong chance for it to happen next season now that he is teaming up with Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, and Lance Stephenson. During their free agency meeting, James might have discussed all his plans to Johnson for his 16th NBA season, and the Lakers are doing their best to please the new king of Los Angeles.
At 33, LeBron James shows no sign of slowing down, but that does not mean that he will be in his prime forever. If he continues playing like the way he played last season, James may end his NBA career sooner than expected. As ESPN noted, the 33-year-old small forward had studied how NBA legends like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan changed their game when they approached their mid-30s.
James must be following the same footsteps in addition to keeping his body in perfect shape before he enters the court. Magic Johnson, another NBA great, can definitely understand and relate on what LeBron feels. As of now, it remains unknown what are things the Lakers are still planning to do this offseason, but it is a good thing that they maintain strong communication with James with every move they make.