BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have been planning to bring most of the band back from last season with the goal being to go a little further down the road in the postseason.

Well, the path to the NBA Finals just got easier for Boston with LeBron James agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

With James taking his talents out West, Boston’s stiffest competition in the East appears to be the Philadelphia 76ers and to a lesser extent the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors.

You have to like Boston’s chances against any of those teams in the postseason, provided the Celtics’ core guys are relatively healthy.

Even if they aren’t, as we saw this past season, the Celtics are still a team with the potential to be a formidable foe come playoff time.

As for James, his decision to leave the Cavaliers for the second time will relegate them back to bottom-of-the-East status with very little room to improve with a payroll that’s among the highest in the league and a roster filled with contracts that will be difficult to move.

And let’s face it.

As bad as the Lakers have been in recent years, there’s more hope for them to improve significantly with the addition of James. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, appear to be a team with very little room for growth in the short or long-term.

But the Lakers’ improvement is a problem that Boston doesn’t have to worry about now.


Instead, their focus has to remain on building a team that can advance out of the East, which is a path that’s a lot smoother now with the knowledge that you no longer have to go through James in order to get there.

But make no mistake about it, James doesn’t do something like this without having a plan to add significant talent surrounding him.

We’ve heard a lot about the Lakers’ pursuit of Kawhi Leonard, and they have also talked with Houston’s Clint Capela.

Landing either player would significantly bolster the Lakers’ quest to become more than just a playoff team but a team that can contend with the Western Conference powers such as two-time NBA champ Golden State and Houston.

But besides the Lakers, the team that should really be in bottle-poppin’ mode right now is the Boston Celtics, who are no longer a team that’s poised to contend for the Eastern Conference supremacy.

They are the favorite now as the path towards a return to the NBA Finals has become a lot smoother.