Coming off of one of their more disappointing seasons in recent memory, the Los Angeles Lakers will have a chance to improve their roster in a loaded free agent class that will feature superstar names like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson. However, the Lakers face the challenge of selling players on playing in L.A.
That might sound silly considering the cit’s favorable geographic location, but playing in Los Angeles — specifically for the Lakers — comes with lofty expectations, and that’s true even without the added pressure of playing with LeBron James.
However, there are some players that don’t mind or see the pressure of playing under the bright lights of Los Angeles, like JaVale McGee. During his exit interview last week, the 31-year-old center said that he actually enjoys the extra attention.
“As an NBA player, or as me, I don’t really look at pressure like that. I don’t look at it as ‘I don’t want to go to L.A. because that’s too much spotlight.’ I don’t think that’s me. I’ve never been that person. That’s what it’s for. You come to L.A., you’re getting all the attention, bad or good, but you’re gonna get the attention when it’s good so that’s all that really matters,” McGee said.
“There’s opportunities on and off the court. We had the most TV games of anybody, and we were coming from a losing season, so that’s just showing you how much spotlight and opportunity there is being with the Lakers, whether you’re winning or losing. It’s just opportunity,” McGee added. “Anybody who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the opportunity because of their fear of the spotlight is childish.”
That spotlight might earn McGee a sizable raise from the $2.39 million he’s currently making in free agency this summer, whether it’s from the Lakers or another team. McGee isn’t the only one that spoke highly of his experience playing in Los Angeles, though.
18-year veteran Tyson Chandler said that playing in the City of Angels is a unique experience for those who are cut out for it.
“It’s a big-time free agent crop coming out this summer with a ton of talented guys, there’s a ton of game-changers. I think it’s gonna be pitching to them all the pluses and positives of being in L.A,” Chandler said. “Yeah it’s a lot of attention, yeah it’s a lot of scrutiny, but yeah it’s a lot of opportunity, and if you win here, it’s huge. Winning here is not like winning in other organizations. We know that because it’s Los Angeles. Big cities like that, it’s different. It’s about who wants to step up to that challenge to be quite honest. There’s certain personalities that can be a Laker, and if you’re not that personality then it’s not for you.”
On July 1, the Lakers will find out exactly who those players are and the front office will be strapped with roughly $38 million in cap space to pay them handsomely. If they’re lucky, there will be a superstar player or two in the mix.