The Los Angeles Lakers earned the biggest prize of the 2018 NBA free agency when they succeeded to sign LeBron James to a four-year, $154 million contract. The arrival of James in Los Angeles is expected to turn the Lakers from a rebuilding team to a legitimate threat in the Western Conference.
One of the few people who are not in favor of LeBron James’ decision to join the Lakers is Inside the NBA analyst Charles Barkley. According to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, the NBA Hall of Famer believes James should have stayed and said that his move to Los Angeles is mainly a “business decision.” Despite the acquisition of the best player on the planet, Barkley still doesn’t see the Lakers as a top-tier team and predicted the best-case scenario for them is to finish No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.
Charles Barkley also criticized the Lakers for the controversial moves they make this offseason. After failing to acquire Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers signed four role players — Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley — in free agency. Aside from their questionable fit with LeBron James, Barkley thinks the Lakers’ recent acquisitions will slow down the development of their young players like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball.
“I don’t like what [the Lakers] are doing,” Barkley said. “It’s going to take away from their young nucleus. They’ve got some good young players. You’re trying to set up Lonzo, Ingram, Kuzma. With all that other stuff going on, I don’t know if that’s a good environment for those kids.”
Most of the Lakers’ newcomers aren’t expected to demand a starting role, but Barkley believes those veterans won’t be comfortable just spending the rest of the game sitting on the bench. Barkley said that the Lakers’ offseason moves will be creating a significant problem for Coach Luke Walton next season.
“That’s an impossible scenario for Luke,” Barkley said. “He’s got LeBron who is going to do things his way. He’s got those young kids who are probably in awe of LeBron. He’s got those older guys who are going to try to seek attention.”
Despite earning plenty of criticisms, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka looked confident with how their offseason goes. Johnson revealed that they properly consulted LeBron James with every move they made this summer. The Lakers only gave Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019 where they are expected to chase another superstar.