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8 winners and 8 losers from LeBron James agreeing to sign with the Lakers

While LA won big, James left plenty of teams with reason to sulk.

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LeBron James’ journey to the Los Angeles Lakers was a long time in the making. It took a lot of moving pieces for LA to get the space and momentum to sign The King, even while the Sixers and Cavs did everything in their power to try and inevitably fail to land his talents, too.

For anyone at the top of their respective field, their decisions affects everyone below. In choosing LA, James inadvertently left a heap of losers behind. Players, teams, and owners went all in on the generation’s best talent, and now the Cavs especially will have to pay.

Through all the theatrics, let’s review the ultimate winners and losers of James’ career decision.


1. Los Angeles Lakers

This could’ve been a hideous summer for LA after losing out on Paul George, but everything’s been saved and then some. Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and Co. worked the trade market to perfection to make this all happen. They dumped Timofey Mozgov AND Jordan Clarkson’s contracts off the books, while sparing few assets to make room for LeBron freakin’ James.

The transactions started a year ago and turned out to be genius.

2. LaVar Ball

Somehow. More. Attention.

3. Magic Johnson

He did what he set out to, and he doesn’t have to step down from his job.

4. LeBron James

He gets a fresh team, ample cap space, and assets around him to either develop or convince management to deal for other talent. James gets a do-over, and maybe most importantly, he isn’t trapped on that awful Cavs team again.

5. Fans who want more challengers for the Warriors

Tired of seeing LeBron come up short because of a lack of surrounding talent? Welcome to a new age, and one that’ll force LeBron to meet the Warriors before the Finals.

6. Any team in the Eastern Conference

The King is gone! Now’s your chance, Kyrie Irving.

7. Wine distributors in Los Angeles

Your best customer just flew into town.

8. The NBA

Any time James changes teams, that’s good business, and when he leaves for the Los Angeles Lakers of all franchises, that’s MONEY. Jersey sales, ticket prices, fan attention, competitiveness, TV ratings ... everything is going up. The league is richer when the Lakers are good.

Annual Allen And Co. Investors Meeting Draws CEO’s And Business Leaders To Sun Valley, Idaho Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images


There are sooo many.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Their generational talent is gone and he left behind a huge mess. In it current iteration, the Cavs will struggle to make the playoffs, and they have few assets or any direction for its future. The payroll is filled with ugly contracts, and if the team isn’t careful, it could lose its first- AND second-round picks next year (The Cavs 2019 first-round pick is top-10 protected, or else it goes to the Hawks.)

Let’s look into that aforementioned ugly payroll by the way. Over the next two years, the team owes George Hill $37 million, J.R. Smith $30 million, Jordan Clarkson $25 million, Kevin Love $50 million, and Tristan Thompson $36 million.


2. Dan Gilbert

For all the reasons above, Gilbert’s team went from perennial Finals participant to crap, quick. Despite having the best talent possibly ever to touch an NBA court TWICE for 11 seasons, he only got one title out of it and saw the player leave on his own accord each time. James’ teams were never structured to fit his needs, and now the chances to fix that are spent.

3. Isaiah Thomas

From Celtics star, to getting traded for Kyrie Irving, to failing as LeBron’s teammate, to getting exiled to the Lakers at the trade deadline, to getting pushed out of LA again by James, it’s been a bad go of things for I.T.

4. Houston Rockets

First, they lost Trevor Ariza on the first night of free agency, and now LeBron James enters the Western Conference. Three’s a party now, and Houston looks weaker than it was a season ago. Will they ever get that close to the Finals again in the James Harden era?

5. Golden State Warriors

LeBron is armed with cap space, fresh talent and a will to win again in a fresh environment. James wants to beat this team badly enough that he’ll punch a wall when things go wrong.

6. Philadelphia 76ers

They lost out on Paul George, a Kawhi deal is nowhere in sight just yet, and now LeBron James spurned them. They got a meeting with James, but that was just a formality. Now this Joel Embiid tweet just looks bitter.

7. San Antonio Spurs

Any leverage they once had in a Kawhi Leonard trade with the Lakers is gone. Turns out, James’ commitment didn’t rest on whether LA had another superstar already lined up. San Antonio cannot use LA’s desperation as a means to send a Godfather offer their way.

LA doesn’t have to do anything drastic to secure Leonard, either. James is staying for at least three years regardless, and Leonard still wants to go to LA.

8. Kevin Love

Somebody save this man. He’s trapped.