When the Los Angeles Lakers packaged Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers at last season’s trade deadline, many wondered if that would ultimately seal the fate of LeBron James come free agency.
After all, by including Clarkson in the trade, which reportedly required the Lakers to convince the Cavs to take the reserve guard, it freed up necessary salary cap space to offer James a max contract.
Sure he enough, James went on to sign with the Lakers. Not only that, but he joined the franchise on a four-year contract, rather than the 1+1 deals he had been signing.
James joined a developing and promising young core of players, and the roster has since been rounded out with the additions of gritty veterans. Projections for Los Angeles have ranged from missing the playoffs this season to competing with the Golden State Warriors.
In Nance’s estimation, James certainly is capable of leading the Lakers to the NBA Finals this season, per James Walters of Express Sport:
When asked what the target will be for the Lakers this season, Nance Jr exclusively told Express Sport: “They could [get to the Finals].
“With LeBron, anything is possible. I think it’ll be a very tough road because arguably three of the best four teams are out west.
“You’re going to have to go through Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City – there’s some really good teams out there. Their work is certainly cut out.”
Winning the Western Conference would extend James’ unprecedented streak to nine consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals. Overall, he’s 3-9 when playing for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
James’ biggest nemesis has been the Warriors, as they met the Cavs in each of the past four Finals. Cleveland managed to pull off a stunning upset in 2016, but the Warriors have run away with back-to-back championships since signing Kevin Durant.
Regardless of how the season ultimately unfolds for the Lakers, it figures to be James’ most challenging since his early years with the Cavaliers.