LeBron James is taking his talents out west.
Just after 8 p.m. last night news broke that shook the sports world. LeBron was officially signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
This decision was largely different than when James left Cleveland the first time around. There was no press conference, no television show. The news was made public by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
LeBron James has agreed to 4-year, $154M deal with Lakers, Klutch Sports says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2018
There was not much the Cleveland Cavaliers could offer to persuade LeBron to stay in town. L.A. has more cap room as well as enticing young pieces for James to lead.
Meanwhile the Cavaliers, who are strapped to bad contracts, could really only sit back and watch the inevitable happen.
However, with Paul George going back to Oklahoma City, it remains to be seen who will be joining James in the city of angels. There is still the Kawhi Leonard trade possibility as well as DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Lakers.
It is difficult to envision James going there with no other stars on board. Playing with LeBron is an attractive enough option as is, but getting to play with him in a city like Los Angeles is going to be an enticing option.
LeBron James let people in his life know that he was coming to the Lakers a few days ago. (via ESPN)
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) July 2, 2018
Turning to the Cavaliers side, where exactly do they go now? With many ugly contracts on their books, Cleveland cannot even go out an sign a marquee name. Expect the Cavaliers to explore all options, but what makes the most sense if for Cleveland to sell their pieces and work on a full rebuild.
With Collin Sexton and players such as Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr on the Cavaliers, they will have a solid nucleus of young talent. However, until the Cavaliers are able to get off their bad contracts of J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson, their hands are tied.
Cleveland does have their 2019 first round draft pick, but it top 10 protected. So if the Cavaliers decide to make a run for the playoffs, they will not have a first round pick. If Cleveland chooses to sell the farm and rebuild, they will likely get to keep their first round selection.
Westgate has released new odds for next year’s NBA Championship:
Warriors – 10/11
Lakers – 7/2
Celtics – 7/2
Rockets – 7/1
Sixers – 14/1
Cavaliers – 500/1
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 2, 2018
Who would have thought two years ago that Cleveland’s two biggest players would wind up on rival franchises. Kyrie Irving is leading the Celtics and now James is leading the Lakers.
As painful as it may be for Cavaliers fans to watch, an NBA Finals series between Irving’s Celtics and James’ Lakers would be ratings gold.
Well well well … pic.twitter.com/APxVgxAsh9
— ESPN (@espn) July 2, 2018
There is an argument to be made that it is James’ fault the Cavaliers are in the situation they are in now. He wanted J.R. and Thompson signed and got his way. Now they are underperforming and their contracts are taking up a big chunk of the salary cap.
Though he came back, James never fully committed to the Cavaliers as he never signed longer than two year contract. The front office was handcuffed in the sense that they could not fully mortgage their future because the uncertain future for the organization.
Now it could take the Cavaliers several years to get back up to speed because of all the assets they used trying to appease James. However, this is the price you must pay in order to win a championship.
The best part of the last four years was in fact that championship in 2016. Looking back on it years from now, it will be hard to argue what the Cavaliers did during the LeBron’s second run in Cleveland.
This time around fans general reaction was not anger, it was gratefulness. James did wonders for the Cavaliers franchise and is still doing wonders for the entire region of Northeast Ohio. While it is unfortunate James will not be suiting up for the Cavaliers, the last four years were quite the ride. It will be a journey nobody in Northeast Ohio will soon forget.