Hall of Famer Charles Barkley believes LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for reasons other than trying to win a fourth NBA title.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, Barkley argued the Lakers are far from a championship contender in 2018-19:
“I was hoping [James] would stay in Cleveland. I look at [the move to L.A.] strictly as a business decision. He’s on the downside of his career. He wants to be a big Hollywood mogul. He’s going to be driving by the beach every day instead of going through the snow. … [The Lakers] are not even close to a top-tier team. They’re a five or six seed in a best-case scenario.”
It’s debatable whether James would be any closer to another NBA title if he had stayed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs would’ve had a clearer path to the NBA Finals, but they took one game off the Golden State Warriors over the past two Finals series.
Cleveland didn’t have a way to meaningfully improve the roster, either. Trading Collin Sexton or Kevin Love was unlikely going to net the team a true superstar.
Barkley’s comments about the Lakers aren’t too far off-base, though. James acknowledged in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols he signed with the Lakers over the Philadelphia 76ers or Houston Rockets in part because he relished the challenge of helping return the franchise to prominence.
That’s bound to be a multiyear process for James.
The Lakers have a number of talented young players, but they’re well off the level necessary to challenge the Warriors. Signing Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley won’t get them there, either.
Because of that, it’s impossible to make any real judgment on James’ move to Los Angeles until two or three seasons in. It may look like he’s prioritizing the commercial side now, but that perception will change if he can turn the Lakers into a title threat.
Courtesy: Bleacher Report