This was supposed to be the warmup summer, the one during which the training wheels get slapped on and everybody practices for the Real Summer of Kevin (Durant, not Love).
All their financial eggs now go into the big-man basket. They want to talk to
Free agency begins Tuesday and Aldridge turns 30 two weeks later, a minor asterisk for a player who averaged a career-high 23.4 points last season and also 10.2 rebounds.
Portland made it past the first round once in Aldridge's nine years there, and though the Lakers were coming off their worst season ever (21-61, ugh), you can bet they'd pitch him on a rapid revival.
Aldridge already owns a home in Orange County, his initials are tailor-made for the Lakers, and it just so happens that his good plays were rewarded at Portland home games by an audio snippet of Randy Newman's "I Love L.A."
The Lakers have enough money for only one big-name free agent, gathering about $23 million in spending power after declining the $9-million option on free-agent center-forward
The Lakers' only big men going into free agency are Tarik Black and
They boxed themselves into a big-man corner by passing on Duke center Jahlil Okafor to draft Russell, putting the Ohio State point guard next to promising
Perhaps a quick shot of reality is needed.
The Lakers have had problems getting free agents to take their money in recent years.
The only big name they signed lately was
The Lakers need a Plan B if Aldridge says no. Two teams from his home state, San Antonio and Dallas, will reportedly court him too.
It would take some persuasion to get Clippers center
It's harder to figure what to make of Love, who had an off year in Cleveland and said in February there was not a scenario where he'd play for the Lakers. He might meet with them next week even if it's only a ploy to ensure a maximum offer from the Cavaliers, reportedly the favorites to retain him.
Marc Gasol has no interest in the Lakers because of the uneasy last few years his brother spent with them, according to numerous people familiar with the situation. Versatile big man
If the Lakers strike out, they could try re-signing Hill for less and chase swingman Jimmy Butler, who could ease into the hole vacated soon by Bryant. The problem is Chicago's expected action of matching any offer sheet the restricted free agent signs.
Whatever happens, it's simple table-setting for a year from now. The Lakers will have double the fun when Bryant's contract is off the books ($25 million next season) and the salary cap jumps from $67 million to about $90 million with the
Even if the Lakers sign a max free agent now, they'll have more than enough to join the Durant free-for-all and add another big-name free agent too.
Their only players currently on the 2016-17 cap are Russell, fellow first-rounder Larry Nance Jr., Nick Young (remember him?) and Julius Randle, assuming they pick up his third-year option. It adds up to only $15 million, though money must be earmarked for Clarkson, who becomes a restricted free agent after only two seasons because he was a second-round draft pick.
This summer has already been entertaining. The real show comes in a year.
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