The King is heading to Los Angeles, and I’m not talking about a member of the local hockey team. The Lakers have gotten the news they’ve been craving for almost a year now: LeBron James is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and will wear purple and gold next season.
James announced the four-year, $154 million deal on his agency’s Twitter account:
July 2, 2018
James taking his talents to the Lakers is the biggest thing to happen to the franchise in quite some time. Not only is it a superstar wanting to play with them, it’s the best player of the last two decades — and arguably the greatest off all time — saying that he wants to be in Los Angeles.
Regardless of his reasons and no matter what the results of this new era are, that’s a huge moment for this organization and a gigantic feather in the cap of the team’s current front office of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.
For years, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss kicked the can down the road and praised the benefits of cap space to make a signing like this, and for years their biggest offseason signing was more one-year deals until they pushed all their chips to the middle of the table and bet on ... Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng.
That bet cost them their jobs, but from the second Johnson and Pelinka were hired, they trumpeted the value of that same cap space. Now, in the summer after their first full season together they’ve shown why their similar promises aren’t similarly empty. Johnson and Pelinka just demonstrated why they’re different: They can recruit the marquee names Lakers fans are used to having.
There are more steps to be taken here, as James surely didn’t sign here to sit through a rebuild. It’s entirely possible we may see a flurry of moves in the next few hours or days.
But now is not the time to worry about those consequences years down the line. For now, the Lakers have signed the best player they’ve had in a long, long time, and fans’ patience has finally been rewarded with a team worthy of their obsession.
Lakers exceptionalism is back, and the team is as close to their Boston Celtics-tying 17th banner as they’ve been in a decade.
Long live the King.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.