The Los Angeles Lakers won free agency this summer by agreeing on a four-year, $154 million deal with LeBron James. But in the days since, . They've brought in known LeBron nemesis Lance Stephenson, as well as JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo.
Not only are they strange moves because, well, they aren't exactly great players, but they also don't fit too well with LeBron's style of play. Most notably, none of them are good 3-point shooters, and the Lakers were already the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the league last season. And as we've seen throughout his career, LeBron operates best with the ball in his hands and shooters spaced out around him.
However, according to a report from ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne, this was the plan Magic Johnson laid out to LeBron when they first met, and "The King" is on board:
(This) exactly what James and Lakers president Magic Johnson planned when they met for more than three hours on the first night of free agency. According to multiple sources within the Lakers and close to James, this is the rollout of a plan Johnson outlined for James the night of June 30 at James' home. The signings, which sources say James has consulted on but have been executed at Johnson and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka's direction, follow this vision.
July plans often go up in smoke during the grind of a season. But James is absolutely on board with these unexpected transactions as hints of a rather different-looking No. 23 emerge for next season.
But at the same time, no one -- not LeBron, nor the Lakers' front office -- is unaware of their lack of shooting, and they could make moves to address that problem. From ESPN:
All parties agree they need more shooting and those type of moves may be coming.
It should come as little surprise to hear that LeBron is on board with these moves. There obviously aren't going to be any reports leaked from either the Lakers or his camp that he's already frustrated before he's even technically signed the contract. And maybe he really is OK with these deals. After all, they're only for one year, and the Lakers probably aren't contending this year anyway. But man.
On paper, you can see where the Lakers are going with this, in trying to add some more versatile defenders and playmakers, but were Stephenson, Rondo and McGee really the players to fill out that vision? Yes, it might allow LeBron to play off-ball some more this season, but that's not going to work as well as it could with no one who can space the floor. Plus, he's still going to have the ball in his hands for large stretches of the game.
We'll see how this goes, but the Lakers might want to start making those moves to acquire a little shooting sooner rather than later.