It's now about the waiting game for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The journey for Magic Johnson and the front office after obtaining LeBron James hasn't traveled an expected route, to say the least. But the goal from the onset was surrounding James with proven talent like Rajon Rondo that won't blink under the pressure of the playoff spotlight.
Either way, the team-building strategies employed haven't stopped the Lakers from landing a monster schedule and creating droves of interesting storylines surrounding the players.
While the chase might be more entertaining than winning and playing the waiting game, a new chase will begin shortly if James and his Lakers can mesh well in the coming months.
LeBron means prime time.
Not that the Lakers weren't getting prime-time games before. Like the New York Knicks, another team spinning its wheels seemingly endlessly lately, the Lakers had plenty of national games despite not being competitive.
Now things change.
So much so, in fact, the Lakers have 43 national games next season, two more than the Golden State Warriors. And according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register, James will have to register more air miles than ever next season atop the fact he has never played a season in the deep Western Conference.
It seems the freshness of James in a Lakers jersey trumps things like the well-known powerhouse that is the Warriors. It should be a good time to see how he's not only meshing with new teammates, but sparring with a deeper conference littered with talented teams capable of taking his Lakers down, as each team will surely treat the opportunity to do so just like a playoff game.
Of course, one of the biggest games of the year takes place on November 21 when LeBron heads back home to Cleveland. That, among other premium matchups, headlines the 43-game national slate.
Beasley Feeling the Love
Michael Beasley was probably one of the last names Lakers fans expected the team to pursue once James arrived.
Rondo made sense. So did a few others. But the 29-year-old Beasley probably wasn't even on the radar, especially not after spending last year with the Knicks. Granted, he bounced back a bit by averaging 13.2 points per game, but he didn't seem like the type of free agent James would want.
And while Beasley is excited to play alongside James, he's more focused on the way the front office handled the situation, as he told Leo Sepkowitz: "Because I've really been at a down state in my career mentally and confidence-wise. So to reassure me that I can play basketball, the way Magic was talking—it was good to hear someone I looked up to talk about my game. Being wanted and being admired was really overwhelming."
Unlike other signings like Lance Stephenson, Beasley won't be seeing the floor as much. But he still makes for an interesting storyline, and the idea seems to be he'll be plenty motivated to get on the court and keep the offense stabilized with the second or third team.
From the sounds of it, Beasley is more than motivated to do just that. He played alongside James in Miami at one point, so the experience there was perhaps enough to help him latch on with the Lakers. Whether it's a role at center in a small-ball lineup or deep depth help, Beasley seems poised for a consistent role on a contender, which isn't something he's been able to say often while bouncing around, in and out of the Association.
Rondo Ready to Play the Mentor
The biggest signing this offseason for the Lakers outside of the obvious was Rondo.
While some likely wondered if the veteran would steal minutes from Lonzo Ball, the real objective from the front office seems to be a mentor-like role during the regular season.
As expected, Rondo is willing to play this role.
"I'm ready to help develop Lonzo as much as possible," Rondo said, according to TMZ. "If I'm not starting and he's starting, he's going to be ready to go and ready for anybody that comes his way. And we'll be ready to roll."
In this case, talk probably isn't cheap. Rondo is 32 years old and knows what it takes to craft a serious contender, and the expectations for him were surely outlined clearly from the front office. His deal happened right after the Lakers renounced Julius Randle, so the front office must have liked what it heard.
Of course, Rondo provides a boon on the court as well. As always, he's been especially potent in the playoffs and should be again for the Lakers while teaming with James.
His arrival serves the dual purpose of helping to develop someone the Lakers believe can be a superstar in the league while also providing a producer when things matter most. In a way, Rondo's an embodiment of the balance the Lakers' rebuilding plan has struck over the course of the past few years.
While Lonzo wasn't bad by any means as a rookie, if he's healthy and ready to go, he'll benefit greatly from having someone like Rondo in his corner.