The biggest news on the action-packed opening day of NBA free agency wasn’t LeBron James’s decision to sign a four-year max deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. It wasn’t Paul George failing to even meet with his hometown Lakers before re-upping with the Thunder for four more years. Or Chris Paul returning to Houston on similar four-year pact. No, it was the $4.5 million the Lakers doled out to notorious LeBron agitator Lance Stephenson.
A short time later, JaVale McGee agreed to a minimum-salary slot with the purple and gold for next season as well. After securing the signature of the biggest free agent of the summer on the longest deal he’s signed since 2010, it certainly felt like the Lakers were trolling the rest of the NBA adding McGee and Stephenson—even if NBA Twitter was doing backflips at the meme-able collection of personalities around the King. It’s worth wondering how the current Lakers roster will gel with the undisputed best player of the millennium, the only name you can drop in the same breath as Michael Jordan.
First, the oddity that was the Lance signing is even more baffling when you consider the amount: Who else was paying Stephenson anything over the minimum in a league that’s capped out following the 2016 summer spending bonanza? Even if teams had room under the cap, it’s no guarantee the flamboyant former Pacer would even get a minimum offer. The only squad he’s ever looked remotely effective with declined an option that would have paid him less than the $4.5 million he’ll make in Hollywood next season.