What I’m Hearing: After a disappointing first season with the Lakers, LeBron James is ready to go to work and recruit elite talent to join him in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES — LeBron James has vowed to use his persuasive powers to recruit elite talent to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer and end the organization’s ongoing slump.
James was shut down for the season last weekend, with the Lakers again having missed the playoffs, but he has no plans to rest over the next few months, instead pouring his energies into convincing other superstars to join him at Staples Center.
“So it’s very critical to me and my future,” James told Bleacher Report, when asked about the importance of adding another big-name player before the start of next season. “And I’m positive and very optimistic that Magic (Johnson) and Rob (Pelinka) and the franchise will be great.”
Team president Johnson and general manager Pelinka failed in their attempts to pry Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans before the trade deadline, and will face stiff competition for the leading free agents on the market. However, James believes his role as a recruiter will also be a key part of the process.
“They got me,” he said. “I’m very confident. And I’m confident that players want to play with me. I’m very confident in that.”
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Those remarks could be taken as a response to rumors, sparked in large part by comments from Kevin Durant earlier in the season, that many top players were reluctant to pair with James and the Lakers because of the level of media scrutiny involved. The team’s success moving forward may largely hinge on James’ ability to prove that theory wrong.
“It’s a critical summer for myself,” James said. “Obviously, the franchise is going to live forever. But for me, personally, it is very critical, because I want to compete and I want to compete now.”