NBA Hall of Famer and Inside the NBA analyst Charles Barkley is one of the few people who are not in favor of LeBron James’ decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers. Barkley believes it would be better if James stayed with the Cavaliers and said that joining the purple and gold was mainly a business decision.
In an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter, Stephen A. Smith and Charles Barkley had a discussion regarding where LeBron James and the Lakers stand right now in the league. Though he admitted that James is the best basketball player in the world, Barkley thinks that the Lakers are still not a legitimate title contender and only the fifth or sixth best team in the deep Western Conference. However, Barkley expects the Lakers to get a lot of attention in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season.
Smith disagreed with Barkley’s opinion, saying that the Lakers will be going to the Western Conference finals next season. Smith believes that the only team that can take the Lakers out of the Western Conference is the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Barkley fired back and said that the Lakers are not even better than the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Houston Rockets.
“Well, I think you’re wrong,” Barkley told Smith. “In my opinion, I think they are not even as good as the San Antonio Spurs. I think the Spurs with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus healthy all year. The Spurs are better. I think Oklahoma City is probably better now that they got rid of Carmelo. And the Rockets are better.”
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
It’s easy to understand why Charles Barkley doesn’t see LeBron James and the Lakers making a huge impact next season. Despite having the three-time NBA champion, the Lakers failed to acquire a second superstar who can increase their chance of contending for the NBA championship. Unlike with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers where he played with other NBA superstars like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, James is mostly surrounded by young players and veterans whose fit with him remains a big question mark.
The Lakers’ young core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball has shown lots of superstar potential and massive improvement last season, but Coach Luke Walton still needs to figure out how to maximize their effectiveness when they play alongside James. Barkley believes that the Lakers 2018-19 NBA season will be more about building good chemistry and learning how to play as a team.