The Los Angeles Lakers won 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 end the Lakers’ five-year playoff drought. However, despite having the best basketball player on the planet, the Lakers are still not considered a legitimate title contender in the league.
Unlike in the past eight years where he played alongside other NBA superstars like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving, LeBron James is currently surrounded by young players and veterans whose fit with him remains a big question mark. In his first news conference as a Laker, James expressed his excitement playing for a new team, but he admitted that the Purple and Gold still has “a long way to go” before getting on the same level as the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors.
“We got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” James said, via ESPN. “They can pick up right where they left off, starting with training camp… We are picking up from scratch, so we got a long way to go. We can’t worry about what Golden State is doing… They’ve been together for a few years now. We are all new to each other; we have to take our bumps and our bruises.”
The No. 23 was familiar. But the purple-and-gold jersey was new. LeBron James was officially unveiled as a Laker. https://t.co/SkOum7rcqI— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 25, 2018
The Warriors are definitely on a different level with the Lakers and the other 28 NBA teams. After winning back-to-back NBA championship titles, Golden State succeeded to retain their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. Despite being buried deep in luxury tax hell, the Warriors managed to make a huge upgrade on the roster with the acquisition of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in the recent free agency.
Before thinking about dethroning the Warriors, the Lakers should keep their focus on building good chemistry and figuring out who will join LeBron James in the starting lineup. Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton revealed that he has already written down several different lineups that he plans to test in training camp. Walton also consulted with two Lakers legends, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, regarding his approach to coaching next season.
With half of their roster consisting of new faces, LeBron James and the Lakers are expecting lots of ups and downs in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. However, James strongly believes that everything will start to fall into place if they continue to work together and learn how to sacrifice for one another.