LeBron James, NBA Free Agency

NBA Free Agency 2018: Winners, losers, and shockers

From subterfuge to subtweets, the embarkation of free agency in early July fills the NBA landscape with rumors, misdirection, and Kansas City Shuffles.

The Finals are now weeks in the rearview and all 30 teams molt away their old skin. In the summer, everyone starts anew, breaming the failures of yesteryear and reassessing their stature in the league.

Free agency presents an opportunity for teams to advance up the rungs of the NBA power ladder by landing new talent, and in turn, taking it away from other teams. Essentially, it’s a way for owners to throw money at their problems.

And no matter what, it always puts the fans in a tizzy.

Some teams win free agency by handling it shrewdly, offering fair deals to worthy players. Others lose by being indiscriminate nincompoops, flinging around lavish contracts all willy-nilly without contemplating the wide-angle strategy or long-term view.

Winner: Los Angeles Lakers

At 10:24 p.m. EST on Sunday, July 1, an atom bomb of information dropped on the head of NBA Twitter and changed everything. Yes, that was the exact moment we learned Lance Stephenson inked a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Oh, and about two hours before that, LeBron James said he’d be signing with the Lakers too.

The tallest domino in free agency fell through a humble press release and set off a chain reaction of events. Sources said LeBron would make his announcement on the morning of July 3 after meeting with all his potential new teams. But his decision came early after getting swayed by the clout and charm of Magic Johnson.

Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and newly crowned champion, JaVale McGee will join the King and Born Ready Stephenson in donning the purple and gold.

Trying to categorize the Lakers’ bevy of moves was weird. At the macro level, they landed the best player on the planet, which, by itself, qualifies them as winners. However, they followed it up with a handful of highly-questionable, increasingly-confounding decisions.

Lucky for them, LeBron supersedes everything.

As suspect as LeBron’s new running mates are, each of them are only signed to 1-year deals. If any don’t work out, then they’ll be gone almost as soon as they got to L.A.

But it was never about this season. The Magic-Pelinka tandem set out to dredge L.A. from the league’s cellar and make them the biggest ticket in town again. Now, that foundation is laid.

Looks like the Lakers learned from the mistakes of Cavalier past and didn’t over-commit to quasi difference-makers. Keeping their cap sheet flexible is paramount with the starry free agent class of 2019 on the horizon and this juggernaut Warriors team in the foreground.

The Lakers are respectable again, and that’s all that matters for now.

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