Guest contribution by Jen Cassidy
Nine days into free agency, the die was cast with LeBron James signing a four-year deal worth $153.3 million. The last year is a player option, which means the Lakers will have ample time to build around James.
But James is in win-mode now, yet the team he is set to lead is much different from the one he once led in Cleveland. This thus begs the question: Does LeBron need to reinvent himself in LA?
Ray Allen believes a reinvention is in order and noted on the Dan Patrick Show how the Lakers roster will present James with a slew of challenges far different from those he faced with the Miami Heat and the Cavs.
For Allen, The King will have to figure out a way to play with ball-dominant players, including Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson. Even holdovers Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram excel with the ball in their hands, with the former proving to be a passing savant and the latter making noticeable strides as a playmaker last season.
LeBron surrendering some ballhandling responsibilities to others would be interesting to see, although he did that in Miami, where he and Dwyane Wade took turns taking charge, and in his first three years back in Cleveland, where he allowed Kyrie Irving to take control for stretches. It was, in fact, Irving who had the ball in the dying seconds of the winner-take-all Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, which the Cavs won 93-89, to give the city its first-ever professional championship.
Now, with Ball and Rondo as the creators, they can surely help James in handling the ball. This way, The King may be best served to cede some sort of control to his teammates, given his advanced age (33).
LeBron, Kuz, Hart, and Stephenson all playing pickup yesterday at the Lakers' practice facility.
NBA is around the corner, y'all.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) September 18, 2018
Sure, James is capable of yet another Herculean effort, but at some point, his body will eventually break down from the load he is routinely asked to carry game in and game out.
Currently, the NBA’s third-highest-paid player, The King has certainly embraced the challenge of bringing the Lakers back to the Promised Land.
There’s a pretty good chance that James will rise to the occasion yet again and add to his already incredible legacy, which will surely be included in all GOAT debates.
In fact, many experts have pegged James as the second greatest player of all time. No. 1 in the eyes of many is still the great Michael Jordan, who emerged as the runaway winner in the GOAT poll conducted by CBS Sports with over 100 college coaches.
We reported the poll’s results, which shows His Airness receiving 82% of the votes. James, though, has a few more years left in him and if he can give the Lakers another title, the GOAT debate may very well tilt in his favor.
But, if James wants another title, he will have to reinvent his game in Los Angeles. This time, he will have to figure out how to use his transcendent talent to raise the level of play of the Lakers’ young core — Ball, Ingram, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma — and to get the most out of his veteran teammates, like Rondo and Stephenson. Otherwise, he will again be a one-man wrecking ball; and as last season proved, that would not be enough.