For the second consecutive season, the Los Angeles Lakers have plenty of room under the salary cap. But the summer of 2015 could look a lot like last year when the team whiffed on their attempt to sign every marquee free agent.
L.A. entered the start of free agency as one of the favorites to land LaMarcus Aldridge, who is the best player on the market that is likely to change teams. Shortly after meeting with Aldridge, the Lakers were out of the running for the power forward. In addition to failing to sign Aldridge, it doesn’t look like the team will be able to sign any other top free agents either.
Marc Gasol is likely to return to the Memphis Grizzlies, but even if the center was looking to play for a new team next year, the Lakers wouldn’t be on his list. Kevin Love was expected to meet with the Lakers, but he re-signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers even before hearing the team’s pitch. Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler had also reportedly been targets of Los Angeles, but they re-signed with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, respectively.
Coming off their worst season in franchise history hasn’t helped Los Angeles, but their biggest problem might be their approach in trying to recruit free agents. Aldridge had been seriously considering signing with the Lakers, but he appeared to be unimpressed by their plans to build a championship team. Los Angeles appears to have missed out on the chance to sign DeAndre Jordan because of a poor meeting, as well.
Aldridge was floored in a good way by Houston's analytics, on-court projections in their presentation. Not so with the Lakers.
â€” Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) July 1, 2015
Lakers were "somewhat underwhelming" in presentation with DeAndre Jordan, sources. DJ felt Lakers had been on "whirlwind" last 24 hours.
â€” Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) July 2, 2015
What’s just as concerning is that the Lakers thought their meeting with Aldridge went well. Multiple sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that they felt good about the meeting, and the Lakers were reportedly “stunned” to hear Aldridge’s reaction.
With all of the signings through the first two days of free agency, it’s looking more and more likely that this summer will be a repeat of last year. L.A. made a play to sign the biggest stars available, going after the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. The Lakers didn’t end up with any of them, instead making Carlos Boozer their biggest splash of the offseason.
Two years ago, the Lakers couldn’t re-sign Dwight Howard. They had the ability to offer him more money than anyone else, but he chose to sign with the Houston Rockets.
The Lakers won’t compete for a title next year, and using a lottery pick on a top prospect might be what’s best for the future of the organization. But there’s no guarantee that the Lakers will have a 2016 first-round draft pick, since it belongs to the Philadelphia 76ers unless they get a top-three selection.
There is plenty of time left in free agency, but the ship might have sailed on the Lakers even signing a top-20 free agent. Greg Monroe is headed to the Milwaukee Bucks, and L.A. doesn’t seem to be a fit for someone like Monta Ellis.
Los Angeles will have to spend some money in free agency, considering their roster is largely barren. Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are their only returning players from last season. L.A. took D’Angelo Russel and Larry Nance Jr. in the first round of the draft.