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The Los Angeles Lakers watched as big name after big name signed elsewhere when free agency broke at midnight July 1st. With a boatload of money to spend, Magic Johnson and company were still holding out hope the biggest name would be wearing purple and gold next season. Well, Lakers fans can expect to see that legendary smile on Magic’s face as reports came out late Sunday that LeBron James would now be taking his talents to LA.
The deal is reportedly worth $154 million over four years and most likely will include an opt out clause. The move came with little shock as King James has been rumored to be headed to L.A. after his eight straight finals appearance and consecutive losses. James has career averages of 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game. The NBA’s best player has played a ton of minutes, games and playoffs series. He was looking for a team with younger upcoming players and the chance to add stars in free agency.
Just minutes after the James signing, the team resigned guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one year $12 million deal. He averaged 13.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 74 games for the Lakers last season. He’s a good defender and can hit the three when he gets his chances.
As the night went on the team would sign more players in Lance Stephenson and Javale McGee. Their numbers won’t jump off the page at you, but both will provide an enforcer mentality. Stephenson can defend multiple positions and he and Lebron have familiarity from their playoff wars in the east. McGee is a great shot blocker and provides rim protection, something that was missing in L.A. last season.
The Lakers plans have just begun with the move for James and these other signings. With good young players like Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle, the team can make trades if need be. James maybe even likes the idea of rolling into next season with these guys. In any event the team will continue to try and find the best fit to surround the King.
The James signing comes with heavy rumors that (in classic James form) another all-star player could be joining him on the Lakers before free agency is over. Talks with the San Antonio Spurs about disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard were said to be dwindling but now have quickly heated up. If the Lakers can swing the trade without gutting their young core it would make for a real special duo. Even without a trade for Leonard, other free agents will at least be interested now to join a destination city like L.A. with the chance to now play not only for the Lakers but with LeBron James.
The off the court ramifications are there too. James is star of the upcoming movie Space Jam 2 and the trailer for the movie was put on hold until after his announcement. The lure of Hollywood’s bright lights and silver screens remains intact, helping the Lakers sign their biggest free agent since Shaquille O’Neal in 1996. Shaq came for many of the same reasons, like the ability to attract free agents and the chance to advance his movie and music careers. Now that James has been added other players might see themselves in movies and commercials if they came to Los Angeles to play, it becomes very enticing.
One of the biggest stars ever to walk the earth will now take residency near Hollywood, with plenty more drama to come. The Lakers have already started to assemble his minions and they are poised to make the team a contender again. Its LeBron James’ NBA career part four. Stay tuned.