It has been a fascinating week so far, with the opening of NBA free agency, an expensive week too.
The storylines and the reactions have been everywhere, surprising, stunning, loud in some quarters, and then silence in another.
This all started on NBA draft night when the Lakers bypassed the big man, Jahlil Okafor, and took the explosive guard DeAngelo Russell of Ohio State. All in the hopes they could use their cap space to grab a big name free agent.
It didn’t happen, despite the pronouncement of Kobe Bryant, about how quickly the Lakers could bounce back. Kobe even took part in the sales pitch meeting the opening night of free agency, sitting and talking to Portland’s leading scorer LeMarcus Aldridge, who put himself on the open market.
Within hours the story leaked, Aldridge was not interested in LA, for any variety of reasons, not so much money, but atmosphere, leadership, teammates etc. Aldridge, completing a whirlwind tour of meetings indicated he might meet a 2nd time with the Lakers today, rethinking not just basketball, but marketing opportunities that could add more to the (4Y-80M) max deal he’d get.
Move on to the next one,and the question, would he come home, Kevin Love, the Cavalier, and ex-UCLA star? The answer was quickly ‘no’, for he was staying in Cleveland where the max money guaranteed him 110M, and likely trips back to the finals.
Still searching, the Lakers cast a glance towards the 7-foot offensive talent that was Marc Gasol of Memphis. Who would choose to stay there rather than play here in LA, where the banners, trophies sit? Not Gasol. He decided to re-up. Some of it had to do with the fact older brother Pao played in LA and he left.
And now a last minute run across the hallway for the Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.. Once upon a time, anyone-everyone would flee the Clippers corner to go to the Lakers skybox. Not these days. Jordan went back to meet with the Clippers last nite.
So now the Lakers are casting about like a dinghy in the bay, not sure where to go, who to try and get, and facing the reality, they are no longer a destination point.
Hard to believe with all the cap space they have, with the banners and jerseys hanging from the rafters, and the championship trophies sitting in their executive offices, they can’t lure anyone.
No one wants their money, or maybe no one wants to play with Kobe.
Maybe the real truth is there is no longer greatness making the sales pitch to get people to put on the Purple & Gold. It’s obvious people are tired of Kobe Bryant’s sales pitch, attitude, philosophies and style on the court. Everyone knows the twilight has not been kind to him health-wise either. It always seemed to be about Kobe, his wants, wishes, moneuy demands.
What’s different now than then with the Lakers? Jerry Buss, the benevolent owner has passed on. Left behind, a son and daughter, and a trail of recent mistakes.
There’s no Showtime anymore. Magic Johnson is off being Mr. Dodger or whatever event he shows up at. The lure of Big Game James Worthy or Jabbar is long ago history.
Mitch Kupchack is class, but does not bring the shine of the greatness before.
You only need to look at the standings to know, Byron Scott has been bounced out of a bunch of jobs, and the last group of coaches all before him failed.
And no one can ignore recent history of how it all ended up with Shaq, and Dwight Howard, Gasol, and Steve Nash.
The real story why you can’t draw stars to the Lakers these days?
There’s no Jerry West or Phil Jackson making a sales pitch. Their words spoke volumes. The words being spoken today are all about the past, not about the quality of presence or the hope of the future.
The Lakers, hard to believe what they have become, and now likely will be going forward, once the last couple of free agents go elsewhere.