Leading up to free agency, there were questions if LeBron James would be willing to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers if they were unable to land another All-Star player.
As Paul George re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kawhi Leonard requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs, James did not wait and signed with the storied franchise on the first day of free agency.
With James officially signing a four-year, $153 million deal, the Lakers are trying to find a balance between winning now and in the future.
In an interview with Chris McGee and Mike Bresnahan on Spectrum SportsNet, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was asked about James’ opinion on playing with the young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart, as transcribed by Mike Trudell of Lakers:
“Oh yeah, he’s very excited. That’s who he is. Rob and I want gym rats, we want guys who love to play the game. Guys who love to compete, they love to win, they love to sweat … and that’s what we got, everything rolled into one with LeBron. He knows he can take these young guys and really work on their skill set, their mindset, their approach to the game, their work ethic. And he’s already rubbing off on them and really has not gotten together with them yet. So when you have the greatest player in the world come join your organization, it raises everybody’s level of play.”
The rebuilding process took five years, but the Lakers were able to draft extremely well. In addition to their lottery picks, Los Angeles was able to accelerate the process with their late first to early second round picks.
While James is excited about the team’s young core, it will be interesting to see if they trade for Leonard heading into or during the 2018-19 NBA season. Similar to the George situation, the Lakers could trade their young core or wait for free agency, but there are risks with both scenarios.
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