Do the Lakers Need to Win a Title in the LeBron James Era?

With the King under contract for the next four seasons, the Lakers and LeBron James will be under pressure to win a title. Is that the only way to validate success for both the Lakers and LeBron going forward? Let's discuss!

Legacy is a subjective term. Everyone's "top 10 greatest players ever" list is different. However, most of us can agree LeBron James is one of the very greatest players ever. After 15 seasons of achieving almost every significant accolade in the sport, the King can still add to his résumé hoard. The goal in sports is to win, and obviously, LeBron wants to put himself in a position to add more rings.

How Do the Lakers Become Contenders?

Despite his massive move to play for the historic Purple and Gold, the Lakers are not currently a championship contender. They are still probably another star signing (Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, etc.) away from being a legitimate title threat. On top of this, Lonzo Ball and especially Brandon Ingram still have plenty of development to do to help make the Lake Show elite.

Furthermore, the Golden State Warriors are still a juggernaut. It may take one of their three free-agent stars (Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson) to leave next offseason on top of the Lakers making moves of their own for LA to be the team to beat. The Dubs are one of the greatest teams of all time with all of their best players in their primes. It will take all three of those stars to want around max money for one of them to leave assuming the ownership group isn't willing to pay tons of luxury tax money.

Worst Case Scenario for LA

Now, let's assume the worst case scenario: the Lakers strike out the next few offseasons on acquiring a free agent star and never quite get over the hump. This would raise the question if the LeBron James signing a waste for both parties.

For the Lakers, we can look at this two ways. First, if they don't win a championship with LeBron, they were probably never going to win a title with a different star signing. Some might argue another star might have been more attractive than LeBron for other free agents, but there is no evidence to definitively say so for now. LeBron James is the best free agent of recent and near-future offseasons. It is hard to imagine the Lakers winning a championship with another star, but not him.

Second, it would be disappointing if the Lakers do not sign a Robin for LeBron's Batman considering it is a potentially championship-contending option for a star free agent. Combine James with the Lakers' young core along with Leonard, Butler, or Thompson and the Lakers would be a deadly team. If they cannot add either of those guys, that would be a massive letdown.

However, if that does not happen, LeBron is probably the best star to help progress Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram's development. Learning under an all-time great while also playing with him would expedite their developments more than the alternatives of signing another star or no star altogether. It would essentially be a sped up rebuild. If LeBron leaves or retires at the end of his contract, Ball and Ingram will both be 24 years old and more than ready to carry the franchise going forward.

Worst and Best Case Scenario for LeBron

For LeBron, this could be a failed experiment basketball-wise. Of the other potential options that were in the running for the King, Philadelphia could make him regret his decision. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons might be transcendent players. Markelle Fultz still has a lot of potential, and defended and passed well when he played. Contrarily, Embiid may get hurt again. Also, Fultz and Simmons might never develop jumpers. It all depends on their, and the Lakers' young players' developments.

But for the best case scenario, LeBron might end up leading the Lakers to another title or two and earn another MVP award. His all-time status will just ascend even more. Even the people who do not have him as the GOAT have to think harder about it. He is already there in many people's eyes, but what makes the greats great is not just sustained greatness, but improving upon it.

Is a Title Required for LeBron?

In summary, LeBron does not need to win a title to enhance his legacy. It would be massively disappointing if they do not win a championship while having one of the all-time greats., it will set the young guys up for success better than the alternative of not getting him. Ingram and Ball will likely have plenty of great years left afterwards. If that is the worst possible outcome, the Lakers are in a great position going forward. LeBron is already in the GOAT conversation, so the worst outcome for him is still being discussed as such. With very little downside and so much upside, Laker fans should have a lot of optimism going forward.

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