The Los Angeles Lakers have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, easily making the past half decade the worst stretch of basketball for the storied franchise. Things may change this year as the Lakers hit it big in free agency with the signing of LeBron James to a four-year deal.
While the rest of the roster around James is not filled with stars, expectations will be high for the purple and gold purely based on their having the best player in the world. Recent Lakers acquisition Rajon Rondo has no issue with the pressure, as he told media members on a conference call that the Lakers should compete for a championship right away.
“You put any team, any group of players around LeBron James, as he has done [eight] straight times, he goes to the Finals,” Rondo said Friday on a conference call. “My expectations are the exact same thing. Even with the Warriors adding [DeMarcus Cousins] and the Rockets being who they are, I think we fit right up there in the mix. It’s early, obviously, and I’m not promising anything, but at the end of the day, I expect to win. Nothing else.”
Rondo joins Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee as other additions to the Lakers following James’ announcement. The team lost big men Julius Randle and Brook Lopez but re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The Lakers’ roster is nothing special at this point. There are older veterans who are fairly one-dimensional like Rondo and McGee and myriad inexperienced young players who are still developing into what they will be in the future.
Nevertheless, James has done the impossible with other misshapen rosters. The Lakers are extremely unlikely to win a championship this year – it’s probably extremely unlikely that they even get out of the second round in the loaded western conference – but with LeBron leading the way, nothing would come as a surprise. Rondo, who was praised for his leadership on the Pelicans last season, is getting the young players ready for the most pressure-packed season of their careers.