The rumors had been circulating for the entire 2017-18 season that LeBron James could join the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent that summer. But with the Lakers winning just 35 games the year prior and striking out on numerous free agents in the previous offseasons, James breaking that streak just seemed impossible to many.
James leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for a second time was something that didn’t seem likely, especially as the Cavs had done everything they could in order to appease him. On the other side of that however, James had completed his goal of bringing a championship to Cleveland.
So some were of the mindset that the Cavaliers organization and the city of Cleveland couldn’t be as angry if he were to leave. In the end, all of the rumors turned out to be true as Klutch Sports announced on July 1, 2018, that that James would be signing a four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Lakers, giving the team its much-needed superstar that it had been searching for since Kobe Bryant had retired.
— Klutch Sports Group (@KlutchSports) July 2, 2018
This move sent a surge of electricity throughout the Lakers franchise that was sorely needed. Then-president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was reportedly outside of James’ house at the start of free agency to ensure LeBron would be coming to Los Angeles.
And combining the star power of LeBron James, with all of the attention that the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise brings just seems to be a perfect match.
From the moment Magic and Rob Pelinka took over the Lakers they were making moves to clear out salary cap space for this possibility. Coincidentally, it was a trade with James’ Cavaliers that cleared up the necessary room to give James a max contract.
The Lakers dealt the popular Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to Cleveland in exchange for the expiring contracts of Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye, along with the Cavs’ 2018 first-round pick.
Admittedly, James’ first season in Los Angeles didn’t bring quite the success many had hoped as James suffered his first severe injury and the Lakers failed to make the playoffs. But in Year 2, with Anthony Davis joining the roster, LeBron has returned atop his perch as the best player in the NBA, leading the league in assists, and being one of the two favorites for regular season MVP.
The ultimate goal is to bring the Lakers their 17th championship and if he can do that, LeBron James will place himself in that pantheon of Lakers’ greats with the likes of Kobe, Magic, Kareem, and West.
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