The Los Angeles Lakers recently made waves around the league by announcing their intention of signing two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP LeBron James during next summer’s free agency period. James, without a doubt, will be the best player on the market and with the Lakers’ history of alluring the top free agents (Wilt Chamberlin, Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, etc.) it may be feasibly that they could persuade the King to take his talents to The City of Angels.
But the appeal of Los Angeles may not be enough to sway James to leave Miami.
Los Angeles’ biggest current selling point is their cap space in the 2014-2015 season. The Lakers have just a total of three players (Steve Nash, Nick Young, and Robert Sacre) leaving their cap figure for the season between $10 – $11 million. This number could also shrink as their is a provision in the CBA that would allow the franchise to spread Nash’s $9.7 million out over three years. This provides the Lakers with enough space to pursue LeBron as well as one other max contract player (reported Carmelo Anthony).
However, James’ current team, the Miami Heat, also boast just as much cap room with virtually all of their players becoming free agents in the summer of 2014. While it is likely one of the Big 3 may be on their way out to avoid the luxury tax, the Heat will have enough room to lock up James as well as another max contract player. With sufficient cap room, Miami will have the ability to construct a team around James in his prime so that they stay title favorites for the next four to five years.
On top of this, the Heat will be able to offer James the most money (in a state with no income tax) and the longest deal. James’ biggest incentive to stay with Miami however, will be the impact his free agent signing has on his legacy.
If James bolts to Los Angeles to pick up rings as a Laker, it will always be held against him that he changed teams to go to the best situation to win. If you are already in the conversation to be considered the greatest to every play the game, this is not acceptable. This fact becomes more prominent if Miami win’s it’s third straight title in four consecutive appearances.
If James completes the three-peat this season, there is virtually no way he leaves Miami. LeBron would be in a position to chase a fourth consecutive title, only accomplished by Russell’s Celtics who won 8 straight. Not even Michael Jordan won four straight titles. James would continue to build one of the most dominant dynasties in NBA history and have a real shot of catching Jordan’s 6 rings, in South Beach.
The best shot the Lakers have at landing James would be if the reigning champs do not repeat this year and a new team is crowned champion. Something needs to happen to the 2013 Miami squad, such an injury or underperformance, so that James is not enough to lift the team to the top. Only then would there be a chance to convince James that he is better off in a new location.
All in all, the Lakers shot at signing LeBron James is about the same as their 2013-2014 shot at winning the title. Just as Laker fans are not overly optimistic about this year’s prospects for success, it may be time to start thinking the same about the summer of 2014.