Will LeBron James Be Enough for the Lakers? Some in the NBA Don't Think So

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers attends a 2018 NBA Summer League game between the Lakers and the Detroit Pistons at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, on July 15. James signed a four-year deal with the Lakers earlier this month, but some are skeptical of the team reaching the playoffs. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Since LeBron James announced he was joining the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month, it has been accepted wisdom the 16-time NBA champions will return to the playoffs next year.

The Lakers missed the postseason only twice between 1976 and 2013 but have not made an appearance since. James's arrival will surely bring the drought to an end.

Except that perhaps it won't, not according to some NBA executives anyway.

"I don't think the Lakers make the playoffs," a Western Conference executive who questioned the Lakers supporting cast was quoted as saying by Bleacher Report.

Another executive also sounded skeptical of the Lakers' chances of reaching the postseason.

"James has been steadily coasting on defense in recent years," he added.

"Now he's going to close games as the Lakers' 5? Draymond [Green] is why that works for the Warriors."

Given the Lakers have enough cap space for two max contracts, James's arrival was largely expected to be accompanied by that of another superstar.

However, neither of the two main candidates for the role, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, will join the four-time MVP in California next season.

The former surprisingly opted to extend his stay in Oklahoma by another four years, while the latter was traded to Toronto alongside Danny Green in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick.

While Leonard could still opt to become a free agent next summer and team up with James in Los Angeles, the duo will not play together for at least another season.

Instead, the Lakers' additions since James's arrival have spanned the underwhelming and the downright surprising, with Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee joining the franchise.

"The roster we have in October may not be the same come February," a Lakers' executive was quoted as saying. "But we like what we have."

The issue of playing James at center, however, will almost certainly arise again during the season, given the Lakers lack depth in that specific area.

McGee, Ivica Zubac and rookie Moritz Wagner are the only recognized centers on Los Angeles roster, after restricted free agents Julius Randle and Brook Lopez signed with the New Orleans Saints and the Milwaukee Bucks, respectively.

While James only spent 1.5 percent of his playing time last season at center, deploying him in the role would allow coach Luke Walton to have Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma all on the court simultaneously.

Despite the skepticism from some NBA executives and the fact James might end up being the only major addition to the roster, the bookmakers seem convinced the Lakers could even be an outside bet to dethrone the Golden State Warriors.

According to the latest NBA title odds from Bovada, the Lakers are third-favorite at 7-1 to win the championship next season, behind the Celtics and the Warriors, who are 11-2 and 57-100 respectively.

McGee certainly believes his new team can bother his former employees, with whom he won the last two NBA titles.

"It's definitely possible. But it's not going to be easy," McGee told Lakers Nation when asked whether the Lakers could compete with the Warriors.

"Obviously, they have five All-Stars now, four immediately. But it's definitely going to be defense over anything," he said.

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