In the age of second chances, it was still surprising.
The Lakers got a do-over with LaMarcus Aldridge, an attempt to amend their pitch to the free-agent power forward Thursday after their initial Tuesday night presentation flopped.
The effort was improved, but Aldridge apparently wasn’t “wooed by it,” according to a person familiar with the meeting.
Figuring they had nothing to lose, the Lakers requested a second meeting and were granted it, sitting down in a much less crowded room with Aldridge and fully aware he thought their initial message was too heavy on branding opportunities in Los Angeles and too light on actual basketball talk.
Aldridge was particularly down on the first presentation’s lack of analytics and on-court projections, something General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Coach Byron Scott hoped to change as the Lakers’ only representatives Thursday.
It was unclear what Aldridge immediately thought of the redo, or “follow-up” as the team tried to phrase it, but the Lakers were believed to have accented his importance in the franchise’s attempted turnaround after a 21-61 season. Another glaring issue that needed revisiting — their lack of an effective center, an increasingly important concept for a four-time All-Star who preferred playing only power forward.
The Lakers currently have two big men with NBA experience — center Robert Sacre and power forward Tarik Black. They have failed to find any others.
They liked versatile big man Greg Monroe, but he agreed to terms with Milwaukee on a three-year, $50-million contract, the exact same offer the Lakers gave him. It wasn’t great symbolism for the Lakers, Monroe choosing the Bucks over them, though he also passed on New York’s offer, surprising both big-market teams.
The Lakers’ meeting with free-agent center DeAndre Jordan on Wednesday didn’t come close to making a dent in his plan to go to Dallas or stay with the Clippers.
Before free agency began, the Lakers were the co-favorites with San Antonio to pry Aldridge from Portland, but that was scuttled after their failed first crack at him.
The Spurs, conversely, won a lot of points with their very direct pitch, telling Aldridge he would be the cornerstone of their franchise, along with Kawhi Leonard, as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker aged gracefully toward the end of their careers.
The Phoenix Suns were also a hit, agreeing to contract terms with Aldridge’s friend Tyson Chandler, who attended the Suns’ presentation and happened to be a center, the very position Aldridge didn’t want to play.
The Houston Rockets made a mark because of their analytics display, showing Aldridge exactly how he could fit in with James Harden and Dwight Howard.
Meanwhile, Lakers President Jeanie Buss revisited the three-year timeline imposed on her brother, Vice President Jim Buss, saying she wanted a relatively quick return to the Western Conference finals, at the very least.
“He told me it would take three years to rebuild it, so we’ve just finished year one,” she told KPCC radio Thursday. “We are coming off our worst season in the history of the franchise, which is tough to swallow because my dad set the bar so high. But my brother had asked that he be given time … and I agree that he needs the time so that he can show people what he envisions as Laker basketball going forward. “
There was a side note to a busy Thursday, former Lakers power forward Ed Davis agreeing to terms with Portland on a three-year, $20-million deal, according to Yahoo Sports.