Aldridge says no.
SI.com: There was a lot of talk about the Lakers free agent meeting. It seemed like it went badly. What happened?
LA: I’m not going to get into details, but it was just a couple of meetings. The first meeting didn’t go as well as they said and then the second meeting went better. I’ll go on the record as saying Kobe was not an issue at all. He was a very positive part of the meeting. I’ve always had a very cordial relationship with Kobe. I see him all the time in Newport [Beach], and it was really messed up that [the media] put it on him when he was one of the best parts of the meeting. But like I said, the first one didn’t go as well, the second one went a little bit, but at the end of the day going back home was more valuable.
On one hand, I want to believe Aldridge. There were reports at the time of Kobe impressing in the meeting.
But the same reports also said the meeting went well overall, which clearly wasn’t the case. That’s why the Lakers needed a second meeting.
Plus, Aldridge previously tried to downplay the ineffectiveness of the first meeting. Here, his tone is a little more negative about that first meeting.
It seems to me like Aldridge, who signed with the Spurs, is just trying to put this behind him. Minimize the problems of the first meeting. Say nice things about Kobe, a respected veteran nearing the end of his career. Move on.
Ultimately, I respect that Aldridge put his name on these comments. Whatever anonymous sources have said about Kobe’s impact and the meetings, this is Aldridge’s account.
What’s unsaid: Kobe’s influence probably pushed Aldridge away from the Lakers. No matter how much he impressed the power forward in a conference room, Kobe makes a salary that limits the Lakers’ ability to compete right now. They wouldn’t have had sufficient cap space to put a quality supporting cast around Aldridge. D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are too young to win on Aldridge’s timeline. Kobe is too old.
Kobe can do everything right – though he shoots too much – and still hinder the Lakers.
They’re just stuck hoping he dazzles in free agent meetings that probably don’t matter anyway.