Boston, MA - On Sunday, LeBron James made his much anticipated free agency decision when it was announced that the King would be taking his talents (this time) to the west coast where he joins the Los Angeles Lakers on a four year deal worth just over one hundred and fifty-three million dollars.
The news immediately made ripples throughout the NBA, as the decision changes the entire landscape of the league. For one, the Western Conference just became even more of a juggernaut gauntlet to navigate through when the playoffs roll around (never mind the All-Star Game). LeBron in Los Angeles means they must be a contender in addition to the perennial super team of the Golden State Warriors, the up and coming, young New Orleans Pelicans, and the James Harden (2018's MVP) led Houston Rockets, among others.
But the free agency signing also has massive implications for the Eastern Conference, particularly the Boston Celtics.
The Brad Stevens coached team has routinely fared better than the Cleveland Cavaliers during the regular season in past campaigns, but LeBron would always have Boston's number, most recently defeating the boys in green in seven games during the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, now that LeBron has changed conferences (for the first time in his career), the East is wide open. Some potential contenders for the NBA Finals include the Washington Wizards, the Toronto Raptors, and second most notably, the Philadelphia 76ers.
There is no denying, though, that the Boston Celtics have just become the favorites to represent the East in the NBA Finals. In fact, they almost managed to accomplish this in the 2018 playoffs despite the presence of LeBron James and without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward. With these two superstars returning alongside Al Horford and a renewed batch of budding talent in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston is definitely going to be leading the betting odds to appear in the NBA Finals.
Of course, they still have work to do to get to that point. And if they do manage it in the 2018-19 season, whichever team is waiting for them in the West (LeBron's Lakers or otherwise) is going to be a near insurmountable challenge.
As it stands, the Lakers and Celtics have the same odds (7/2) to win the Finals. Rivalry back on?