The moment the Los Angeles Lakers signed Lebron James and the assortment of accompanying veterans, the clock began ticking on when the Lakers would be able to acquire another high end superstar to pair with James.
Big names such as Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, for a time Kevin Durant, and most recently and most feverently , Anthony Davis, have been floated as potential talent to be brought in by the Lakers. All but Davis may still be in play for the Lakers, but New Orleans shouldn’t be in any hurry to part with their superstar forward (especially because the Lakers cannot even present the Pelicans the most lucrative package).
When the Lakers make their invetitable move in the hopes of improving their roster ( and appeasing LeBron James), they should look to the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second go around with James as a blueprint of the pitfalls to avoid while he is with your team and in the aftermath of his departure.
Anytime a franchise is fortuitous enough to land an all-time great such as Lebron James ( and Cleveland was lucky enough to have two bites at that apple), everything, within reason ,should be done to maximize that window of opportunity o winning. With their history of fielding all-time great players and teams, this should be familiar territory for the Lakers. This means they should not fall into the allure of just being so happy that LeBron is even there, as they were in Cleveland, that the team is overly deferential to him over the fear of upsetting him and that being a potential impetus to his departure. In that respect the Lakers do not have to walk around on eggshells because unlike Cleveland, he signed a longer deal, so there is no imminent threat of leaving for at least three years. Since they are not operating under that fear that should inoculate the Lakers from making myopic, LeBron-centric moves which will have a ldeleterious effect on the franchise both currently and post-LeBron. A prime example of this are the Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith contracts, both of which were far in excess of the production and market value of both players and only happened at the behest of Mr. Lebron James. As the Cavaliers were attempting to pick up the pieces, and even during their last Finals run, those bloated contracts proved to be negative assets that have severely hampered the efforts of the Cavaliers to improve their lot.
The Lakers should also be careful of premature or hasty coaching changes. It has become evident that Luke Walton is not the coach that LeBron James wants. If his previous track record with incumbent coaches upon his arrival to a new team, then he is going to take a run at getting him out of there. In Miami, there was a strong culture and strong organizational infrastructure in place and that put the kibosh on his attempts to get Eric Spoelstra fired and Pat Riley to come down from the front office to coach the team. Ironically, it was that coach that instituted the system ( the only time LeBron has played in a real system) that produced his most successful seasons from an individual and team aspects and resulted in two NBA titles. In Cleveland his overt disdain and disapproval of head coach David Blatt was ,in part, what led to his firing, even as the Cavaliers were at the top of the Eastern Conference. Tyronn Lue, who was placed on the staff by the organization and was perceived as “LeBron’s guy”, assumed the head coach role. Lue was fired early this season, likely much to his relief, and now Homer Drew has the likely tenuous role of Cleveland Cavaliers head coach. This account is pointed out because good coaches are hard to find and if you hire the wrong guy or fire a guy based off the pleasing one player can harm the franchise down the road. For instance, what does the franchise do when that player retires or leaves the team? Is the coach fired as well? Now the franchise is once again looking for a coach and instability is not a hallmark of any winning franchise.
The Lakers find themselves at an interesting crossroads, if they make the correct roster and coaching moves, they can not only set themselves up to be contenders right now with Lebron James, but also once James moves on. However, if they succumb to the short-sighted pressures of those outside the franchise and from within, they could find themselves in the depth of doldrums not seen since the post-showtime era.