Westward Expansion: LeBron's Move Dramatically Shifts NBA Landscape
LeBron James' decision to sign with the Lakers "dramatically alters the landscape in the NBA," according to Frank Isola of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. James' departure from the Cavaliers "leaves the East wide open next season for teams" like the Celtics, 76ers and Raptors. Meanwhile, his impact on the Western Conference "is just as profound." Rebuilding teams like the Mavericks and Suns have been dealt a "crushing blow," while middle-of-the-road playoff teams are dealing with a "setback." The Warriors "now have another challenge in front of them" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/2). ESPN.com's Amin Elhassan noted James' signing is an "immense balance-of-power shift back to the West." ESPN.com's Kevin Pelton wrote, "It shifts the epicenter of the league's power even farther West." For now, the league's "best and most interesting teams remain in the West." ESPN.com's Andre Snellings noted the East "will need the Celtics to step up or the 76ers to grow up quickly to stay relevant in the championship conversation" (ESPN.com, 7/1). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman writes the Western Conference "continues to grow stronger," with the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, and now the Lakers with James "and another star player almost assuredly to jump in alongside" him this offseason (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/2). In N.Y., Gilberg & Parco write the move "strengthens an already dominant Western Conference, with the Warriors, Lakers and Rockets all boasting at least one MVP" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/2).
NBA WINS AGAIN: THE RINGER wrote the NBA is a "winner" after the announcement because the move is "very, very good for the NBA's business." One of the league's marquee franchises "now employs the marquee player." One "cannot quantify how important that is." Another winner is "lovers of the Lakers-Celtics Rivalry." James' move "gives us the best chance at a full-blown rivalry in years." James and Celtics G Kyrie Irving are the "faces of the two most successful franchises in the league, led by two players from the glory days" in Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge (THERINGER.com, 7/1). ESPN's Jalen Rose said, "When Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, and LeBron James are sitting at a press conference, that’s a win for all of us, that’s a win for the sport” (“Get Up!,” ESPN2, 7/2). ESPN's Trey Wingo said, "You're going to get more eyeballs to one of the most prominent franchises. From that situation, it's a win for the entire league." ESPN's Mike Golic: "It certainly mixes it up to put the excitement in a place where it hasn't been in a while in L.A. ... It makes it more intriguing because it's different" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 7/2).