When the Lakers whiffed on their other two superstar targets in free agency this summer to play alongside LeBron, they went out and made some, well, interesting personnel decisions. What was supposed to be a three-headed hydra of LeBron, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George now looks more like a writhing nest of garden snakes with the occasional lizard thrown in.
LeBron and everyone else across the organization is doing their best to temper expectations and preach patience for the coming season, and oh boy, are they ever gonna need it. Because the potential for tomfoolery with this roster is off-the-charts hilarious. When all is said and done, LeBron is only gonna have one nerve left, and you can take a wild guess who’s gonna be on it (i.e. everyone).
Some of these guys are gonna drive him to the loony bin faster and more aggressively than others, which is why we’ve assembled this list of the candidates in order of most likely to do so.
5. Michael Beasley
Most of Beasley’s questionable antics are behind him these days, especially after they nearly landed him out of the league entirely. He and LeBron were also former teammates in Miami, so he already knows the score.
But we’re talking about Hollywood, where temptation lies around every corner. There’s also the danger of him cornering LeBron on the team plane and feverishly trying to explain to him his problematic theory about human brain capacity.
4. Rajon Rondo
It takes a special kind of ego to challenge the pecking order when you’re standing among the ranks of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, all of whom have admitted they wanted to strangle him at various points during their time together in Boston. In other words, he’s not afraid to challenge the status quo, not even when it involves LeBron James.
Rondo is notorious for alienating just about everyone who comes into his orbit, but after a disastrous couple of seasons floundering around the league, he effectively rehabilitated his reputation with the Pelicans and proved that he can still thrive under the right circumstances. He and LeBron may have a history as fierce competitors, but it seems most likely that mutual respect will ultimately win out here, even if that includes a few screaming matches along the way.
3. Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Kyle Kuzma
Nevermind all the extracurricular stuff that follows the Ball family around like pilot fish, it might very well be the social media shenanigans that cement Lonzo, Hart, and Kuzma’s status as the fools of the King’s court. The young core of this team, Brandon Ingram aside, has a tendency to go after each other on social media and if they bring LeBron into that, it might bring them into the King’s crosshairs as a collective group.
Most of it is all in good fun, but it also went way over the line when they started dropping dis tracks about one another, one of which was wildly insensitive in mocking Kuzma’s single-parent upbringing. Hart has already tested the waters by joking about LeBron’s shorts looking like a skirt in the Lakers’ IG comments. Basketball-wise, all three should produce for L.A., but the errors of youth combined with the extracurriculars off the court could lead to plenty of headaches for LeBron.
2. Lance Stephenson
We don’t have to remind you about Lance’s colorful history with LeBron. We’ll let Lance himself do that. But the NBA also has a long and glorious tradition of former foes teaming up and setting aside their differences for a common goal, a la Jordan and Rodman, Kobe and Metta World Peace, etc.
Of course, the tricky part in each of these cases is allowing the sometimes volatile individual enough leeway to be successful. Lance, like all the others, is at his best when he’s most himself. That’s a scary proposition, and one that’s bound to cause some friction.
1. JaVale McGee
To JaVale’s credit, he’s proved the past two years that he can be a functional and contributing member of a championship team. That is, in smaller, more manageable doses. Things could get a little more complicated in L.A. this season as he finds himself competing for the starting role at the center position. That’s a lot more responsibility and, thus, way more opportunities for some of the comedy of errors that has laid dormant to return in spectacular fashion.
We honestly just miss the JaVale McGee who disastrously tried to lead fast breaks, who goal-tended opponents’ shots into the stands like a volleyball player, who tried to showboat with his team trailing by 25 points. We want just a little taste of that JaVale again, for old time’s sake. And we wanna watch how it makes LeBron seethe and squirm. Is that really too much to ask?