After an underwhelming first meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge agreed to meet with them again, on Thursday.
How did the Lakers get Aldridge to agree to that?
“I think it was a combination of the Lakers being persistent – because they were kind of taken aback that LaMarcus Aldridge was not impressed with the first meeting, where he thought it was too much on the business marketing side and not enough talk about basketball and rebuilding,” LA Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina said on CBS Sports Radio. “And then I think LaMarcus Aldridge felt guilty and bad that word got out that he wasn’t impressed with the whole pitch and somewhat embarrassed the Lakers organization. He wanted to give them another shot to see what vision they have strictly from the basketball side. But at the end of the day, LaMarcus Aldridge has so many options, and when you look at them, I think that they have the edge most notably with the San Antonio Spurs.”
But the question remains, why did the Lakers not make the presentation that Aldridge was looking for? Was this a matter of simply not knowing the player well enough?
“It might be that,” Medina said. “It also might be kind of a camouflage (tactic) because look, the Lakers’ basketball presentation doesn’t have a lot to offer these days. They came off last season with the worst record in franchise history. Now, there’s still some relative optimism just simply because they got (D’Angelo) Russell with the No. 2 pick last week. They have some young pieces that are expected to develop pretty quickly with Julius Randle, last year’s draft pick coming back from injury. Jordan Clarkson was a pleasant surprise where he was a second-round pick last year, and he was able to progress enough to where he got on the All-NBA rookie first team.”
And then, of course, there’s Kobe Bryant.
“There’s always going to be question marks regarding just his durability considering he’s coming off three consecutive season-ending injuries,” Medina said. “So I think (the Lakers) just wanted to tout the business (opportunities) because that’s one of the advantages they have. But I think it illustrates in this day and age where big markets and big cities don’t necessarily have the advantage that they once did. A guy like LaMarcus Aldridge just really cared about, ‘Okay, I’m looking at your franchise. What can you do to help me win quicker than all the other teams I’m looking at?’ I think at least in the first presentation, it didn’t feel like he had enough clarity in their vision.”
Still, it’s odd to see the Lakers strike out as they have.
“It’s been weird the last few years, and I can’t say that I’m exactly surprised that they’ve struck out,” Medina said. “I think it’s a little startling that it came so quickly in the free agency process . . . (but) I think the landscape has completely changed. It doesn’t matter what the brand is or where the market (is). It’s about which team is most capable of winning at this moment.”