The Los Angeles Lakers finally announced the signing of LeBron James as a free agent Monday night, confirming the seismic shift created by the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player’s decision to leave Cleveland for the 16-time champion franchise on the West Coast.
James’ representatives at Klutch Sports Group tweeted a photo of James signing his contract with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka. It’s not a shocking moment or anything; the agency announced last week that the superstar had agreed to a four-year deal worth $153.3 million US with Los Angeles.
The 33-year-old immediately becomes the focus of the Lakers franchise and a possible foundation for the NBA’s next superteam. It remains to be seen whether James and the Lakers can persuade more superstars to join him in the next year or two.
Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, has called James “the best player in the world”.
“He loves to compete and is an awesome leader who is about winning and making sure that his teammates are successful,” Johnson said.
James is coming off an impressive NBA seasons, playing in all 82 regular-season games for the Cavaliers while finishing third in the league with 27.5 points per game and hitting career highs with 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists. He then carried Cleveland to its fourth consecutive NBA Finals, but the Cavs were swept by Golden State.
The Lakers already have begun assembling a revamped team around James by acquiring Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson in free agency while retaining guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Los Angeles also assembled a reasonably talented young core before James’ arrival with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
The Lakers don’t appear to be planning a public event to welcome James to Los Angeles, where he already owns multiple homes and spends summers with his family.