In just their second offseason together, Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka signed LeBron James to a four-year, $153 million contract in free agency.
After slowly rebuilding through the NBA Draft the last five seasons, there are championship aspirations once again. While the Lakers were not able to immediately pair James with another All-Star player, he has given the storied franchise time considering the length of his new contract.
However, at 33 years old and entering the final chapter of his career, the Lakers do need to maximize James’ time in Los Angeles. And his arrival certainly requires the Lakers to adjust their timeline in some regard.
“We’re still on track,” Johnson said of the rebuild. “I mean, of course he fast-tracked a lot of things. No question about it. But we’re going to stay disciplined. We’re not going to make mistakes by going out and making a deal just to say we made another deal.
“Our timetable is still the same, yet if we feel there is somebody out there or a deal to be made that could make our team better, then we’ll do it as long as it’s a great deal for us. If it’s not, then we have our team and we will go to battle with this team.
“We feel really good about this team. And then we’ll have enough room for next summer to give another player a max deal. Rob and I, we’ve already put the strategy together. LeBron of course changed some of that but we’re still going to stay disciplined and build what we hope will be a team that can have a championship run for a long time.”
With Paul George re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers have filled out the remainder of the roster with one-year deals and will have a max-contract slot available in next year’s free agency.
Despite the San Antonio Spurs ultimately trading Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers are reportedly confident they can still sign him.
If it all goes well, James and Leonard will not only have the opportunity to play with each other, but with one of the best young cores in the league. While winning a championship for the first time since the 2009-10 NBA season is the goal, having sustained success is just as important.
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