Since LeBron James has inked his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, the conversation surrounding his decision has almost exclusively centered around all the non-basketball reasons James might have chosen his latest NBA free agency destination.
However, that ignores all the basketball reasons James would join on, which are still plenty. Lakers head coach Luke Walton outlined a few of them during an appearance on the Jim Rome Show:
“I think he likes what we’re doing here. I think he looks around the league and sees what’s going on, and sees that we have a young team with versatile players that have gotten better each of the last two years.
“We have guys that like to get after it and can switch a lot of things. We were pretty much No. 1 in pace all season last year, so he’s got some young guns who can get out and run those wings and get easy baskets. Obviously, he likes what Magic and Rob had to say, and the Lakers being in my opinion the best organization in basketball are things that all appeal to him.”
In the interest of full disclosure, the Lakers actually finished in second place in terms of pace, though Walton’s point is made nonetheless (I’m only including this sentence because Harrison well-actually’ed Luke in the Silver Screen & Roll Slack because of course he would).
Walton’s explanation aside, most will point (and for fairly good reason) to the business aspects of LeBron’s decision and overlook the actual young talent on the roster around him and, frankly, there’s something to that.
Lakers fans will want to overlook the business potential in moving to Los Angeles and learning the business outside of basketball from an icon like Magic Johnson because doing so puts their favorite franchise in a better light and lends credence to the process (as questionable as it might’ve been) that got them here.
However, guys like Lonzo Ball (if healthy), Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and on down the line make sense to play alongside LeBron. The team’s free agent additions — while puzzling at times — might work out, and also offer the Lakers financial flexibility moving forward.
As per usual, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle of those two points, but nuance is boring. And, frankly, who cares? LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker.