Inside the NBA analyst Charles Barkley is one of the many people in the league who is not in favor of LeBron James’ decision to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before the 2018 NBA free agency started, Barkley said that if he would be the one to decide, James should have considered staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With the current roster they have, Charles Barkley doesn’t see the Lakers making a huge noise in the Western Conference next season. Barkley went as far as saying that LeBron James’ new team is not better than other West playoff contenders like the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Denver Nuggets.
“They’re No. 5 seed, maybe six in the West,” Barkley said on The Dan Patrick Show, according to AmicoHoops. “I don’t think they’re better than Oklahoma City, I don’t think they’re better than the Denver Nuggets. The Rockets, to me, are the surprising team because I think they have regressed. I’m a big Trevor Ariza fan … Minnesota’s better than the Lakers. As great as LeBron is — I see them as the 4, 5, 6 seed.”
Playing for the Lakers is undeniably a huge challenge for Lebron James. As of now, the 33-year-old small forward is mostly surrounded by role players and young talents, unlike in the last eight seasons where he played alongside other NBA superstars like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving.
LeBron James has ruled the Eastern Conference for the last eight years, but that doesn’t mean that he can do the same in the Western Conference. Being surrounded by numerous “Super Teams,” Charles Barkley expects a tougher competition for James and the Lakers next season.
“The West is unbelievable,” Barkley said. “(LeBron) got 20 easy wins the last few years. He won’t get those easy 20 wins in the Western Conference.”
Most playoff contenders in the Western Conference have at least two superstars on their team, while the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, could be headed in the postseason with a starting lineup featuring five NBA All-Stars. Meanwhile, instead of aggressively pursuing other NBA superstars in the free agency and trade market, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka decided to sign JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley.
However, Johnson revealed that their controversial signings in free agency are all part of their plan, and added that LeBron James is properly consulted with every move they make this off season. The Lakers may not be the top favorite to win the NBA championship title next season, but anything is possible as long as they have the best basketball player in the world on their team.