The back-to-back NBA champion Golden State Warriors still are the rulers of the league until proven otherwise.
But the NBA experienced a seismic shift Sunday when LeBron James decided to join the Lakers in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers in tatters and the Eastern Conference up for grabs.
Does James, who agreed to a four-year, $154-million deal, make the Lakers title contenders?
Ice Cube has made his feelings known about LeBron James decision to sign with the Lakers. The South L.A.-born rapper tweeted a 2017 video of himself, James and James Corden performing Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” on “Carpool Karaoke.”
The Kings, who share Staples Center with the Lakers, Clippers and the WNBA‘s Sparks, are happy to welcome the Lakers’ newest acquisition to Los Angeles and plan to invite him to a hockey game. They also hope to involve him in some hockey-related activities to take advantage of the buzz surrounding the signing of “King” James.
“We’ll try and do a couple of funny videos with him,” said Luc Robitaille, the Kings’ president and a Hall of Fame player.
With their top free agent target secured, the Lakers are expected to have a conversation with Julius Randle’s representatives Monday. The nature of that conversation is unclear.
Randle has not yet received a contract offer from the Lakers, who control his rights as a restricted free agent.
He counts for $12.5 million against the salary cap, but because he has played under the same contract for longer than three years, the Lakers have his Bird rights and can exceed the salary cap to sign him. If Randle receives an offer from another team and signs their offer sheet, the Lakers also have the right to match it.
The Lakers don’t belong strictly to Los Angeles. They’re also the favorite team of bettors in Las Vegas.
So Sunday’s announcement that LeBron James is joining the Lakers caused a significant shift by oddsmakers who are taking into account not only the dramatic roster upgrade, but the expected onslaught of those who want to gamble on the team just because of their allegiance.
News that James will join the Lakers saw sports books like the influential Westgate SuperBook slash the team’s future odds of winning the NBA title from an opening 20-1 during June’s NBA Finals to 7-2 — making the Lakers tied with the Boston Celtics as the second choice behind the defending-champion Golden State Warriors.
After securing LeBron James on a four-year deal worth $154 million, the Lakers agreed Sunday to one-year deals with three veterans.
They will pay Kentavious Caldwell-Pope $12 million, Lance Stephenson $4.4 million and JaVale McGee $2.4 million, according to people not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. None of those deals can become official until Friday.
Two contracts did become official. The Lakers signed first-round draft pick Moe Wagner, which means he can’t be traded for at least 30 days. They also signed Malik Newman, a rookie from Kansas, to a two-way deal.