Kobe Bryant‘s contributions notwithstanding, the Lakers’ free-agent meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge last summer went poorly. They reportedly focused too much on business, not enough on basketball, for Aldridge’s liking. The Lakers got a second meeting with Aldridge, but it was probably too late by then.
So, the Lakers have a plan to get it right initially next time, according coach Byron Scott.
Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“Seventy five percent or more of it will be about the basketball part,” Scott said
“The other part will be about the business part of it as well. We found out from a great player that he was more interested in the basketball on the court stuff than anything else.”
It’s cute that Scott thinks he’ll be invited to future free-agent meetings.
I doubt the Lakers will retain him for another season after Kobe Bryant’s retirement. Scott will probably last the rest of Kobe’s tenure, but given Scott’s poor handling of young players and inability to win, that’s probably it.
Scott likely has knowledge of the Lakers’ free-agent plans, though. I’m just not convinced they’re wise.
Every max-salary player who changed teams through free agency last summer chose a small market. That has caused many to claim the nature of free agency has changed, that winning has become the only priority and city size is no longer a concern.
But that was just two players, Aldridge and Greg Monroe (Bucks) – hardly a telling sample.
Potential max players in next year’s free-agent class – including Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Andre Drummond, Al Horford, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard, Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside – could have completely different priorities. These are all individuals with their own outlooks. Just because Aldridge was focused more on basketball aspects means little to nothing about future free agents.
More importantly, how are the 4-22 Lakers going to sell basketball to free agents?
D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are a nice start, but this is still a crummy team. A lost first-round pick sometime in the next three years doesn’t help, either.
The Lakers just can’t credibly talk up their on-court plans, not right now. So many other teams can sell better situations to players who prioritize winning.
But the Lakers can sell Los Angeles, Hollywood. The stature of being a Laker is what separates them from other teams. The marketing possibilities are better there.
The Lakers didn’t approach Aldridge wisely, though I don’t think they would’ve convinced him to sign anyway. But if they overreact to that isolated error, it could cost them even more in free agency.