NBA free agency sets off with a bang

North Carolina

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Wow, I knew this NBA free agency period was going to be interesting but I had no idea it would begin so soon.  LeBron James, Chris Paul, Paul George and Kevin Durant have all either signed or agreed to deals.

The most shocking for most was the Los Angeles Lakers signing James to a four year $153.3 million deal.  At first I was somewhat shocked that James decided to join the Lakers without the commitment of any other superstar.

After Paul agreed to his four year,  $160 million deal to stay with Houston and George agreed to his four year, $137 million deal to stay with Oklahoma City, it became clear to me what James’ motives really are.

I really believe that James understands that he is the best player in the world and chasing ghosts of basketball past serves no purpose at this point.  I feel James is setting himself up for life after basketball while also putting his family in a great situation to maximize their earning potential as well.  His eldest son is one of the best young basketball players in the country, so why not put him in the city with the biggest stage.

There have and will be players without championship rings that will want to come and play with James based on the fact he has made it to the Finals eight years in a row.  One has to believe that James is banking on players having the need to play in the bright lights of Los Angeles along with having the chance to chase a ring with the King.

For me, I firmly think James is done chasing rings but rather has his eye on bigger and better things.  I am not saying winning is not paramount for him, but he knows what his and the Laker name means to other players. The fact that Magic Johnson has landed James so early means he has his centerpiece for a championship squad as well as a young protégé to mold in life off the court.  Johnson also has a heck of a pitch when he sells the Lakers to other free agents now that he has the best player in the world.

The Lakers are also pulling out all of the stops to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.  I don’t think this would be a good move by Magic and the Lakers.  With or without Kawhi, the Lakers can’t dethrone the Warriors as presently constituted. Giving up all of their young assets and/or future draft picks seems to be a waste, especially since Leonard will be a free agent after next season.

Leonard has expressed his strong desire to play for the Lakers, so they have the upper hand when it comes to trade talks.  Even if another team decides to jump in the mix, Leonard is more than likely a one-year rental.

The most puzzling move for me was Paul George signing with the Thunder.  After what transpired last season playing along side Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, I was almost positive George would walk.

As I have told everyone time and time again, the Thunder will never win a championship with Russell Westbrook as their best player.  George should have taken a page out of the Kevin Durant book and jumped ship because at best the Thunder are the fourth or fifth best team in the West as they sit now.

I understand the Chris Paul move in hindsight.  If he were healthy, the Rockets had a very good chance of taking out the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last year.  Another shot at the championship with Houston makes a lot of sense, but will be more difficult with the loss of Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns.

NBA fans better get ready for another championship from the Golden State Warriors because there are rumors out there that once Dwight Howard’s contract is bought out by the Brooklyn Nets, he will sign with the defending champs. Also Jamal Crawford has expressed interest in the Warriors as well.

So if I am the Lakers, I just let this year play out and push all my chips in for the summer of 2019.  I know the L.A. Fans are eager to get back on top, but not at the expense of their young core.  The rest of this summer should be interesting, but James has surely swung the balance of power even more to the West.  Good luck next season Eastern Conference.

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