While the thought of LeBron James potentially signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency began to gain steam, most presumed it would not be without the team first luring a second All-Star.
But James bucked that narrative by signing a four-year contract with the Lakers on the first day of free agency. That was followed by speculation the Lakers would become more aggressive with their pursuit of a trade for Kawhi Leonard but it didn’t manifest as such.
L.A. make a strong play for Anthony Davis at the trade deadline, only to consistently be rebuffed by the New Orleans Pelicans. While it can be deduced James supported breaking up the young core to acquire Davis, he’s often been complimentary of his teammates.
Even as the Lakers limp toward missing the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, James continued to preach patience with the team. “You just continue to try to lead them as much as you can,” he said of being the leader of an inexperienced team.
“Both on the fly and also off days in the film room, at shootaround and things of that nature. Because every day is an opportunity for them to learn and experience it. You have to be very patient. They haven’t experienced a lot in this game, there’s a lot of things that are new to them and they have to learn on the fly. But I think the best teacher in life is experience. For me, to be able to use some of my experience to try to rub off on them, hopefully it’s rubbing off on them — about playing the right way, never taking this game for granted and giving it all that you’ve got when you’re on the floor.”
Even as he has emphasized the need for it, James has readily admitted to not being the most patient person. “It’s challenging, but I kind of knew what I was getting myself into,” he said of the Lakers’ situation. “(But) I didn’t expect to be out five and a half weeks at a crucial part in our season.
“We also didn’t expect Rajon Rondo to be out. We both got hurt at the same time and I think it just took a hit on our team at that point in time, which was a critical part going into the new year. Other than that, I think our young guys are very pure. They love to play the game. There’s just some things they have to continue to learn, and we have to continue to be patient with them while they’re learning and taking their bumps and bruises.”
James’ comments marked a second time in the past week he came to the defense of the young core. He previously explained why it was unfair to require or expect high levels of production from second- and third-year players on a nightly basis.
And though James has publicly voiced his support for the young Lakers, it stands to reason the team could look markedly different next season.