Lakers News: LeBron James extension signals he’s ‘leading the team’, says LA Insider – All Lakers
The reaction to LeBron James signing a new deal has been mixed. Kobe loyalists, who never relished James’ presence on the purple and gold, denounced the continuation of the Lakers-LeBron era. Dozens of analysts and pundits have pointed out that LeBron’s new deal does little to improve the roster and will handcuff the team financially going forward. And then there’s veteran LA Times columnist Plaschke.
Plaschke has openly stated that James is no longer a player capable of leading a team to a championship (quotes via The LA. Times).
“It assumes first that James is still capable of leading a team to a championship over the whole season. The truth is he is not.”
The columnist cited LeBron’s recent injury history, then used the new extension as evidence that James, not Jeanie Buss or Rob Pelinka or the Rambii, is running the organization.
“Nevertheless, this extension undoubtedly proves that James shares a trait with previous Lakers stars. James apparently leads the team, which could be problematic when he reaches the optional part of his contract before the 2024 season.”
To be fair to Plaschkie, there are plenty of signs that LeBron and Klutch Sports, led by close friend Rich Paul, are having an outsize impact on the Lakers’ roster building.
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As one astute Twitter user pointed out, the Lakers have signed 13(!) Klutch Sports clients since 2017. Three of the five free agents LA signed last July were Klutch clients. Chance? Probably not.
Many of those signings, Dion Waiters, Ben McLemore, Talen Horton-Tucker, were dismal failures.
LeBron, along with fellow Klutch client Anthony Davis, pushed Pelinka to trade for Russell Westbrook last summer, undoing the Buddy Hield trade that the vice president of basketball operations had lined up.
Now LeBron wants out of the Westbrook business.
The Lakers front office resisted sending a major capital draft to deal with Russ last February, despite James’ desire to jettison Westbrook and bring in proven veterans.
But that’s the bed the Lakers made when they first signed LeBron to a free agent in the summer of 2018 and the bed they made again earlier this week by extending LeBron.
Since becoming a superstar in his own right, James has had an incredible influence on how franchises work.
Whether or not James’ hold on the franchise will produce another championship remains to be seen.