Brown: What LeBron Joining Lakers Means For NBA

How Does LA-Bron Affect NBA?

Jake Brown
July 02, 2018 - 3:48 pm

By Jake Brown

LeBron James is headed to Hollywood. The Decision this time around actually came on the first day of the NBA Free Agency period, and didn't become an ESPN televised special. He didn't make the fans wait. This decision actually went down on the first day of NBA Free Agency. So far at least, there was just the Klutch Sports Agency release that announced the signing of the four-year, $153 million deal with the Lakers. 

King James is heading to La-La Land to play in the Western Conference for the first time in his NBA career. This move shakes up the NBA, especially what happens in the Eastern Conference. Also, the dominoes will begin to fall, and we will soon find out the future of Kawhi Leonard and see what pieces will join LeBron in Los Angeles. Let's take a look at how this changes the NBA landscape. 

Celtics, Sixers own the Eastern Conference (for now)

With LeBron leaving the East, this conference should be right there for years to come for the Celtics and the Sixers. Right now, it's the Celtics chance while they have Kyrie Irving for one more season, assuming he isn't traded before then and that he stays healthy. After that, the Celtics and Sixers will fight for that Eastern Conference title, because Irving inevitably will go to the Knicks or somewhere else as a free agent in 2019. Until Toronto can win in the playoffs, you just can't put them in the conversation.

This allows other teams like the aforementioned Raptors as well as the Pacers, Heat, Bucks, and Wizards to go into playoff basketball believing they have a shot and not having to worry about facing LeBron anymore. His departure from the East alone will completely change how teams approach what they do in the offseason and before the trade deadline. While it definitely opens up more now, the Celtics and Sixers just have too much talent and youth to not be the favorites. That will become a fun rivalry. 

Warriors, Rockets still own the Western Conference

Until we see the Lakers add another star like Leonard and some more pieces, the Warriors are still the cream of the crop in the Western Conference. The Rockets are right there and not far behind if they can make moves in the offseason after re-signing Chris Paul. LeBron certainly makes the Lakers a playoff team and a contender, but this team is not at a championship level yet, at least on paper. When you are surrounded by Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Ivica Zubac, you are not turning that into a title. LeBron could play the best basketball of his career, and that still won't be enough to carry them. 

If Leonard joins the Lakers, it will make things much more interesting. They will still need a few more pieces to the puzzle, but a core of James and Leonard will truly make it a Hollywood show. The question is if the Lakers even have enough to get Leonard, and then they would have holes to fill with what they trade to get him. The better bet would be to try and sign him next summer if he's still available as a free agent then. This is still the Warriors conference though. Kevin Durant is back for at least two years, and this team can 100% win two more titles with him, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in the fold. 

Cavaliers return to irrelevancy 

Imagine if the Cavaliers didn't win an NBA title with LeBron? This would end up being almost as bad as the first time he left, and maybe even worse. Fans in Cleveland took this decision and respected it and are happy to just have got a ring. LeBron spent 11 years in Cleveland, and only got them one title. That's not great, but he did get them to the NBA Finals pretty consistently.

With him now leaving, the Cavaliers will return to irrelevancy. Poor Kevin Love is now left as the only "star" on the roster. Can that team maybe compete for a playoff spot? Potentially. But there just are no storylines and no reason to watch that team anymore if you're not a Cavs fan. Quicken Loans Arena goes back to being empty on game nights, and having ticket prices drop dramatically. It's on to the Indians and Browns in Cleveland. 

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