After five years of rebuilding, the Los Angeles Lakers officially announced they signed LeBron James in free agency.
Although terms were not disclosed, James reportedly signed a four-year, $153 million deal, which will give the Lakers time to build a perennial championship contender. For president of basketball Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, they took a major step in their plan in just their second offseason together.
While the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets hoped to sign James, Johnson reportedly sold him on playing with tough playmakers at this stage of his career. As the Golden State Warriors are the greatest shooting team in league history, the Lakers are looking to attack them differently.
When the signing was made official, Johnson called James ‘the best player in the world’ and how the four-time MVP will impact the storied franchise, according to Lakers:
“Today is a great day for the Lakers organization and Lakers fans all over the world to welcome LeBron James, a three-time NBA Champion and four-time NBA MVP,” said Lakers President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson. “LeBron is special. He is the best player in the world. He loves to compete and is an awesome leader who is about winning and making sure that his teammates are successful. The Lakers players are excited to have a teammate who has been to nine NBA Finals. It’s a huge step closer to returning the Lakers to the playoffs and to the NBA Finals.”
After signing James, Pelinka is determined to bring more championships to Los Angeles:
“This is a historic moment for the Lakers, and we could not feel more grateful and honored,” Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka said. “When LeBron James – a perennial NBA MVP and champion who is playing at the most astonishing levels of his career – chooses to join the Lakers, it serves as the ultimate validation for what we are building here. However, we all know that the work is not yet done. We will continue forward and do all that is necessary to achieve our shared obsession of bringing banner No. 17 to the world’s best fans – Lakers Nation.”
Prior to free agency, the Lakers established a two-year window on signing an All-Star player. While it is no secret James and Paul George were Plan A, they will have cap space once again next year after only signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo to one-year deals.
Although James and the team’s young core will be competitive, it will be interesting to see what happens with Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. While no progress has been made, the Lakers may look significantly different come the 2018-19 NBA season opener.
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