LeBron James

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LeBron Takes His Talents to LA

July 02, 2018 - 9:24 am

By Tim Barbalace

For the first time in his career, LeBron James hit free agency in 2010 and was courted by several teams.  The process culminated with "The Decision," which will have taken place eight years ago this Sunday, to take his talents to South Beach.  This time around, however, he decided on the first day of free agency to head out west to LA.

James agreed to a 4-year, 154 million dollar deal and the Lakers are presumably far from done.  The Lakers entered this off-season with 48.6 million dollars under the salary cap.  Magic Johnson put the pressure on himself to bring top-tier talent to LA. 

“This summer and next summer,” Johnson said. “That’s it. If I can’t deliver I’m going to step down myself, [controlling owner Jeanie Buss] won’t have to fire me. I’ll step away from it because I can’t do this job.”

Johnson is well on his way to getting the Lakers back to prominence.  LA has finished under .500 and has not made the playoffs in five straight seasons.  LeBron James should help change that trend. 

James has not shown any signs of slowing down and advanced to his eighth straight NBA Finals.  At age 33, he played in all 82 games the first time in his career, set career highs in rebounds and assists, and averaged the most points per game since his 2009-2010 season.  Priority number one for the Lakers should be getting LeBron some more help. 

The Lakers have plenty of young talent including Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle and Lonzo Ball, but they lack superstars.  The top targets for LA appear to be Demarcus Cousins and Kawhi Leonard. 

Cousins is a four-time All-Star who averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in 48 games with the Pelicans.  He is an unrestricted free agent, and the Pelicans are also interested in re-signing him.  Cousins is still recovering from a torn Achilles in late January.

Leonard was limited to just nine games last season with the Spurs, but was named to two straight All-Star games the previous two seasons and is a three-time All-Defensive First Team selection.  Leonard is still under contract, so the Spurs would have to agree to a trade with the Lakers.  The Sixers are rumored to be interested in trading for Leonard.

The Western Conference is stacked with the addition of LeBron James.  There is still plenty of work that needs to be done before the Lakers can compete with the big dogs that are the Warriors and Rockets, but LA is equipped with the cap space to close the gap.