Kobe Bryant and
The meeting lasted about two hours. The team had planned about an hour of business-type pitches that spoke to the branding potential of Aldridge as a member of the Lakers. Then the franchise's basketball side was expected to take over — Kupchak, Scott and assistant general manager Glenn Carraro — to talk on-court strategy if Aldridge joined them.
The Lakers have about $23 million to spend toward next season, and Aldridge would take up about $18.8 million if he agreed to a four-year, $80-million maximum deal.
The Lakers are somewhat hamstrung now but will be swimming in money next summer, freed from Bryant's $25 million salary for 2015-16 and presumably in the chase for
Aldridge, who turns 30 in two weeks, represents what the Lakers desperately need these days, an All-Star power forward who can score and rebound for a suddenly backcourt-heavy team.
The Lakers have a quietly positive feeling about signing the four-time All-Star, who played nine seasons with Portland. The Lakers and San Antonio are part of a "two-horse race" for Aldridge, according to a person familiar with his thinking. The extra $28 million he could get in a fifth contract year from Portland is not expected to factor into his decision.
Wednesday is shaping up as a busy day for the Lakers' pitch team. They are landing in time for a noon meeting with
The Lakers will also meet with Cleveland forward Kevin Love either Thursday or Friday.
Monroe, 25, is a versatile big man, perhaps a bit undersized to play center full-time but a solid rebounder and reliable scorer as well. He averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds last season for Detroit, though he will meet with a handful of teams including New York.
Jordan, 26, might be the best rebounder-shot blocker in the game, though he is said to be split 50-50 on going to Dallas or returning to the Clippers.
Love, 26, had an off year in Cleveland and said in February there was not a scenario where he'd play for the Lakers, who had long admired his outside touch and rebounding proficiency. The Lakers managed to secure a meeting with him but the Cavaliers are thought to be overwhelming favorites to retain him.
The last two summers were tough sledding for one of the NBA's proudest franchises:
Kupchak promised the Lakers would continue to be aggressive and secured the first meeting with Aldridge, who planned to also meet with San Antonio and Dallas, among other teams.