Aldridge turns down Lakers’ offer
LOS ANGELES — LaMarcus Aldridge will not be signing with the Los Angeles Lakers because he was not impressed by their Tuesday night presentation, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Aldridge considered the Lakers to be part of a “two-horse race” with the San Antonio Spurs and “wanted to be wowed” but was actually turned off by the lack of analytics on the basketball side of their presentation, according to the person.
Aldridge engaged with the Lakers’ pitch team, asking numerous questions throughout the two-hour meeting, but was noncommittal about a future with the Lakers when it ended. They would have given him a maximum four-year, $80-million contract.
San Antonio is seen as the front-runner to land Aldridge, but the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers are still in the mix.
Aldridge, who turns 30 in two weeks, also failed to connect with Kobe Bryant, who spoke for about three minutes at the presentation. Bryant said he envisioned Aldridge working with him the same way Pau Gasol did, a message that apparently fell flat, though Lakers officials were quick to defend Bryant.
“It wasn’t his fault at all,” said a team official who requested anonymity.
The Lakers also contended that their analytics outline would have been stronger if they had a better roster last season. The team privately expressed envy that Houston’s presentation could be boasted by stats and on-court analysis of a team with James Harden and, indeed, Dwight Howard.
The Lakers coveted the services of Aldridge, a four-time All-Star who averaged a career-high 23.4 points last season, along with 10.2 rebounds, and would have represented the return of a post presence after Gasol left last year to take less money in Chicago.
The Lakers have only two post players with NBA experience on their roster—center Robert Sacre and power forward Tarik Black.
They met with former Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe on Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., and planned to meet with Clippers free-agent center DeAndre Jordan on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
They were also intrigued by Kevin Love, but he announced he would return to Cleveland with a first-person piece on the Players’ Tribune website.
The Lakers have $23 million to spend on free agents this summer, a number that will swell considerably in a year when Bryant’s $25 million is off the books and the salary cap grows at least $20 million because of the NBA’s new TV deal.
The previous two off-seasons have not been kind to the Lakers, who lost Howard to Houston in 2013 and Gasol last year. They also failed to pry Carmelo Anthony from New York last summer.