Pen has touched paper, and LeBron James is officially a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, Jeanie Buss and any other fans who were nervous to jinx anything since his coming to an agreement last weekend can finally breath easy. He has signed on the dotted line and will play in Los Angeles for at least the next three years.
Agent: LeBron James has signed his four-year, $153M deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 10, 2018
James’ signing is no small feat. For years, we’ve had to hear about how few big-name free agents the Lakers had been able to sign since Shaq. Sure, that narrative ignored the fact that Pau Gasol came over via trade and in the years he was a Laker, they won two championships, but the criticism was still as annoying as it was pervasive.
It can’t be exaggerated how critical it is that LeBron signed for as long as he did. A three-year commitment (at minimum) shows a level of trust in the Lakers organization that he frankly never displayed as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers despite having won a championship there. This gives the Lakers ample time to build around him without the pressures of feeling like they have to convince him to stay with every single personnel decision.
For James, inking this deal might mean that he’s seen the writing on the wall and is okay with potentially never getting back to the NBA Finals. The flip-side of that coin, however, is that he sees the number of people pointing this out, takes it as a challenge, and lifts those around him to heights most didn’t perceive possible.
The Lakers have a duty here, quite honestly. One of the greatest players in NBA history is trusting them to help him lift his legacy to the next level. Perhaps he believes he can help the Lakers potentially tie or even leap-frog the Boston Celtics for all-time championships. No matter how this plays out, today is a tremendous day to be a Laker fan, but still, there is plenty of work to be done. With James’ name on the dotted line, that work can officially begin.