It's become familiar now, the Lakers pitching to high-end players, waiting nervously for several days and then watching as the players commit to another team.
They made a trade for former All-Star center
The Lakers requested, and received, a second meeting with him two days after the initial sit-down, but there would be no recovery despite a basketball-centered approach that was "much better," according to a person familiar with the situation.
The Lakers were said to be in a "two-horse race" for Aldridge's services before free agency began but couldn't bring home a big free-agent prize for a third consecutive summer.
They didn't miss out only on Aldridge. They also met with DeAndre Jordan, who chose Dallas, and
The Lakers netted Hibbert for a future second-round draft pick, giving them a post player with legitimate
Hibbert, 28, is a good shot-blocker but an erratic scorer and a below-average rebounder for being 7 feet 2. His days in Indiana were numbered when team President
"If he comes back, we're probably going to play another style," Bird told reporters in April. "And I can't guarantee him anything. He's going to have to earn it."
"Yeah, potentially," he said, adding that Indiana would rather play at a faster pace without the plodding center.
Hibbert has enjoyed some solid seasons, making the Eastern Conference All-Star team in 2014 and 2012. He had one of the more unique lines in recent years, compiling 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocked shots for a triple-double against New Orleans in 2012.
He is not an accurate shooter from the field outside and made only 44.6% of his attempts last season, very low for a center, while averaging 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
Hibbert will be in the last season of his contract and eligible for free agency in a year. He joins a threadbare Lakers frontcourt that had
The addition of Hibbert, who has a trade kicker that increases his actual cap number to $17.8 million, leaves the Lakers with less than $5 million to spend on a dwindling free-agent market.
It's hard to detract the focus from an unsettling pattern, the 16-time NBA champions unable to sign anybody of worth to upgrade their team in recent off-seasons.
Dwight Howard bolted after one year with the Lakers, tangling with
At almost the same time, Pau Gasol left the Lakers for less money with Chicago, ending a successful run that crested with two championships but also involved his name in countless trade scenarios.
The only big-name player the Lakers signed in recent years was Bryant, who gladly accepted a two-year, $48.5-million contract extension in December 2013 before returning from an Achilles' injury. For all his greatness over 19 NBA seasons, Bryant is little more than an injury-prone part-time player these days. He turns 37 next month and has one more year on his contract for a cap-crippling $25 million.
Aldridge turns 30 in two weeks and would have represented the return of a post presence to the Lakers. He averaged a career-high 23.4 points last season and added 10.2 rebounds a game, showing no sign of slowing down after making the All-Star team a fourth consecutive season.
San Antonio sold him on becoming the cornerstone of the franchise, along with recently re-signed
The Lakers were left with what-ifs and what-nexts.