The Los Angeles Lakers finally landed their big star this offseason when LeBron James signed a four-year, $153 million contract. Despite the Lakers’ history of big stars, the franchise’s failures to land one in free agency over the last few years had practically become a running joke.
Now that the team has James in the fold, the idea that the Lakers can’t bring in any big names is done. But former Lakers legend Jerry West isn’t too impressed with what president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka accomplished.
In an interview with Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated, West the Lakers’ signing of LeBron wasn’t all that notable because he wanted to join the team:
“All due respect to the Lakers, who handled everything well,” said West, “but, as these things go, LeBron was not a tough free-agent signing. LeBron wanted to come to L.A. and he wanted to come to the Lakers. Period. He has a family he’s thinking about. He has a home here. [Actually two homes.] He has a son [13-year-old “Bronny” Jr.] whom he wants to keep in one school in Los Angeles. He will be a celebrity out here, sure, but it’s a place where, once in a while, he can get lost, be himself. You can’t do that everywhere.”
West is right in that there were a number of factors in the Lakers’ favor of signing James. In the end however, regardless of what a player thinks he wants, it is still on the franchise to ensure the player that the move is the right one and Johnson undoubtedly did that.
The Lakers also deserve plenty of recognition for all of the moves made beforehand to make the signing possible. In particular, the D’Angelo Russell trade last summer and the trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline this year were essential.
Additionally, the team has done a great job loading up on young talent through the draft that also appealed to James.
Tough or easy, the Lakers front office had to get the job done and they did. Credit is due for bringing in the greatest player in the NBA today.
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