Up until this season, Lakers star LeBron James was the tide that lifted all ships, no matter how cumbersome they might have been. As such, it wasn’t as important for him to play the personnel game and try and get talent alongside himself.
As a matter of fact, James would have you believe he never got involved with such things to begin with (another matter altogether), but he told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that’s changing, and that he’s ready to help the Lakers get him some help in any way he can this summer:
“I’ve never played fantasy basketball,” James says. “But I will be as active as I need to be for this franchise to get better. That’s why I came here. I came here to win. And obviously, we need to get better, as far as our personnel. We have an opportunity to get better. And there’s a lot of talent out there, and a lot of guys that can help our franchise. So I’ll be as active as I need to be for us to get better and go from there.”
Look, I find it hard to believe that someone who cares about player empowerment the way James does has yet to flex his muscle with the organizations he was playing for before, but again, that’s besides the point.
All that really matters here is that James will play a role as a recruiter this summer, because he knows he (and the Lakers) desperately need all the help they can get:
”It’s a critical summer for myself,” James says. “Obviously, the franchise is going to live forever. But for me personally, it’s very critical, because I want to compete and I want to compete now.”
He absolutely right on how important this summer is. Like it or not, his legacy would take a hit if he has another couple seasons like this last one, and then departs either in free agency or retirement with all of his prime behind him. How large a hit is debatable given how incredible his career to this point has been, but a hit nonetheless. Because of that, he told Beck he can’t waste any more time:
”So it’s very critical to me and my future,” James says of acquiring another star, as he stops midway down the Garden ramp. “And I’m positive and very optimistic that Magic and Rob and the franchise will be great.”
When James and this front office agreed to work together, it was seen and sold as a type of partnership., but we’ve heard how he felt about the roster makeup this year. It’ll be interesting to see if Johnson and Pelinka accept responsibility for that at their upcoming exit interviews, or roll with injuries as the explanation for their experiment not working out.
Either way, James promising to help in any we he can to acquire a second star is a huge development, and whether or not he and Magic are successful will mean quite a bit for how both are perceived moving forward. We already know that James feels confident that it will be easier to recruit players to Los Angeles than Cleveland, now we get to see if that’s enough to get some deals done.