While speculation had suggested it was a realistic possibility, LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency still came as a mild surprise. That he committed to the team on a four-year contract, albeit with an opt-out clause after the third year, also was a shock.
Particularly since James signed with the Lakers without the franchise luring a second All-Star to pair with him. Paul George immediately agreed to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Kawhi Leonard was ultimately traded to the Toronto Raptors.
James of course had some influence on how the Leonard saga unfolded, as he didn’t push the Lakers to complete a trade because he’s high on their young core.
At the center of that is Brandon Ingram, who made significant improvements in his second season and is expected to take another leap forward.
Ingram’s work toward making that a reality included joining James in the Lakers’ practice facility, which the team shared a glimpse of on Twitter:
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 9, 2018
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is on record as stating he believes Ingram stands as the most to benefit from playing alongside James. Johnson joked he wanted to attach the young forward and 14-time All-Star at the hip during the summer and throughout the season.
Ingram, James and the Lakers will begin their march toward proving some skeptics wrong on Thursday, Oct. 18, when they face the Portland Trail Blazers for their season opener.