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Lakers News: Lance Stephenson Talks LeBron James Reaching Out, Expectations

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 15: Lance Stephenson #1 of the Indiana Pacers and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during Game One of Round One during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 15, 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

After finalizing his agreement to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James reached out to Lance Stephenson ahead of his move to the Lakers. 

"I was surprised he made the move to L.A." Stephenson said Tuesday after officially signing with the team, per Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet. "I feel like him reaching out and saying he likes what I bring to the game is amazing. I can't wait to get on the floor with him. ... I'm very excited to see what that brings. ... I think we're going to have a fun season."

Some fans may not share Stephenson's optimism given the entirety of the Lakers' offseason business so far.

There's no question signing James makes Los Angeles much better. Beyond that, the team has done little else to bridge the gap with the Golden State Warriors. Getting Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee would've looked much better in 2014, when James was re-joining the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And while it's not surprising James personally worked to seal the deal for Stephenson, it could be a somewhat worrying sign for the Lakers.

In addition to what he'll deliver on the court, the Lakers are expecting James to be their ticket to marquee free agents.

However, Paul George re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder without even seriously considering Los Angeles. During an appearance on the Back to Back podcast on the Count The Dings Network, ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright reported Kawhi Leonard is cooling on the idea of joining the Lakers because he would prefer to be the top star on his own team, such as the Los Angeles Clippers.

James turns 34 in December. Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma give the Lakers a promising future, but the team needs proven All-Stars now in order to capitalize on its championship window.

Judging by this offseason, assembling a star-studded cast around James may be far more difficult than the franchise imagined.

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