The long wait is over. Even though free agency in the NBA just started on July 1, the question as to which team Lebron James would play for in the 2018-2019 season has been asked for months. That question was answered today: The King will soon wear purple and gold. What does it mean for the NBA that arguably the greatest player in the world has chosen this team? Here are just a few implications:
The Lakers are contenders again
Say what you want about a roster filled with young players with no playoff experience whatsoever: With Lebron James in the mix, expect LA to enter the playoffs this coming season. Isaiah Thomas had some expectations that the team could sneak in after a number of wins last season, but it was not to be. Lebron James can now be the lynchpin of Coach Luke Walton’s system.
The West has just gotten even more competitive
Last season saw a tight competition in the Western Conference, with only a few games separating the 2nd or 3rd seed from the 7th seed. Looking at the teams, however, many already predicted that Houston and Golden State would battle in the Conference Finals. With the LA Lakers seeking to establish itself as a force in the West now that they have the King, it gets murkier as to who will challenge the defending champions.
The Toronto Raptors are back in business
Toronto was a team that finished with 59 wins and bagged the first seed in the Eastern Conference during the past season, only to get blanked by Lebron and the Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs. James even banked in a buzzer-beater in that series. After their season ended, Toronto saw its coach fired. Even DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry could reportedly be dealt at the right price. With James gone from the East, Toronto’s biggest obstacle to the NBA Finals is gone.
Expect another superstar to follow James to LA
When Shaquille O’Neal played for the Lakers, he was very particular about what kind of players he needed to play with in order to win a back-to-back championship. He said he needed a “thug.” James could attract more stars –even superstars – to LA, even a particular kind of player. It would certainly help LA to challenge Golden State with another superstar. Like the Tina Turner song goes, “One can have a dream, baby/Two can make a dream so real.”
Magic Johnson’s job just got easier
Magic gave himself until next summer to bring changes through free agency. It looks like his work is nearly done. The presence of Lebron James in LA assures the team’s competitiveness in the years to come. Other additions will be icing on the cake.
Left photo on the featured image from nbafire.com.