In 2018 NBA free agency, LeBron James signed a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
This came as a surprise to many as James had basically created the trend of signing two-year deals with a player option in order to keep his options open.
James signing a four-year deal with Los Angeles basically showed the trust he had in the Lakers organization to get him a championship team. Now, James’ deal has a player option after the third year, which means he can opt out and enter 2021 free agency.
This led to a debate in ESPN’s annual Summer Forecast where a panel of experts predict all kinds of things pertaining to the upcoming NBA season. This latest debate was how many championships James will win in his two guaranteed years left with the Lakers, via ESPN:
James has two more seasons under guaranteed contract in L.A. before hitting his player option in the summer of 2021.
FiveThirtyEight currently projects the Lakers as having a 20% percent to make the NBA Finals and a 14% chance to win it all in 2019-20.
While the results are close, ESPN experts believe James won’t win a championship with the purple and gold. This does make some semblance of sense as the same panel firmly believes the Los Angeles Clippers — with two years of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George — have the best odds at winning the 2020 NBA Finals.
Luckily, this may just add fuel to the fire that James has been building. Ever since James signed with the Lakers, experts have been doubting his ability to get back to the promised land and win his fourth championship. This is in spite of the fact the Lakers now have two of the NBA’s five best players — something no other team can say.
It seems like the Lakers will have to get used to being disrespected by sports media as a whole, and simply play whatever style of basketball that new head coach Frank Vogel brings out of them. Luckily, this team is in a better position than most to succeed — and it all starts with James.