As LeBron James gets ready for the next chapter in his professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers, his friend and former teammate Dwyane Wade is still waiting to see what the future holds for him.
Like James, Wade is coming off his 15th year in the league. However, unlike James, Wade, 36, isn’t expected to cash in on any long-term, multi-million dollar deals — at least not in the States.
Instead, Wade will likely return for his 16th and final season in the NBA for around the veteran’s minimum. Will he team up with James in Los Angeles? Probably not, but it’s not because Wade isn’t confident James and the Lakers can compete next season.
Contrary to what some might believe, and even James himself not wanting to put too many expectations on the Lakers, Wade told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN that he believes it’s too early to rule out a ninth consecutive trip to the Finals for James:
Wade said never to underestimate what James can do as he will try to lead a young, growing core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart along with new pieces like Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley in a stacked Western Conference after making the past eight NBA Finals out of the East.
”Well, first do not count him out, that would be the wrong thing to do,” Wade said. “I think in his mind, he prepares to go to the Finals every year. That is the God-given ability and talent that he has been gifted and given. ... It definitely has added another amazing chapter to his storybook career, and we are all going to watch to see how it unfolds, but I would never count that guy out.”
To an extent, Wade has every right to feel as confident as he is in James and his ability to build a contender. After all, James did help Wade win not one, but two championships in their four years together in Miami with the Heat.
But James won’t have a player of Wade’s caliber in his first year with the Lakers. He might not even have a Chris Bosh unless one of the young Lakers makes serious strides next season.
There’s little doubt James and the Lakers will surprise a ton of people next season, but a trip to the Finals without another surefire superstar, or even an All-Star, on the roster just seems unlikely. However, to rule out the possibility completely would be silly.
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