LeBron James will play for the Lakers next season.
But Charles Barkley doesn't think the expectations should be too high.
"They're No. 5 seed, maybe six in the West," Barkley said on The Dan Patrick Show. "I don't think they're better than Oklahoma City, I don't think they're better than the Denver Nuggets.
"The Rockets to me are the surprising team because I think they have regressed. I'm a big Trevor Ariza fan ... Minnesota's better than the Lakers. As great as LeBron is -- I see them as the 4, 5, 6 seed."
OK. Let's try to unpack this.
Assuming Barkley thinks the Warriors are better than the Lakers, he has four teams -- Golden State, Oklahoma City, Denver, Minnesota -- at minimum ahead of Los Angeles.
What about Utah or Portland or San Antonio or New Orleans?
Barkley said the Rockets got worse, but does he have them ahead of the Lakers? We don't know at this point.
One thing we certainly know:
"The West is unbelievable," Barkley said. "He (LeBron) got 20 easy wins the last few years. He won't get those easy 20 wins in the Western Conference."
On a recent episode of the Warriors Outsiders Podcast, I had the Lakers at No. 6 in the West while Grant Liffmann had them at No. 7.
We reserve the right to change our opinion when we make our final predictions in mid-October!
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller