The Los Angeles Lakers had high hopes of landing a big-name free agent this past summer with LaMarcus Aldridge being their primary target. Although Aldridge had plenty of suitors, the Lakers were thought to have a legitimate shot to sign the veteran forward.
Despite having two meetings with the Lakers brass, one of which involved Kobe Bryant, Aldridge chose to sign a long-term deal with the San Antonio Spurs. Bryant received a lot of criticism for his involvement in the meeting with rumors surfacing that his presence may have rubbed Aldridge the wrong way.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Aldridge said Bryant was the best part of the meeting with the Lakers.
When it was over, Aldridge bristled over reports that somehow Bryant had been to blame for the Lakers’ debacle. “Kobe was the best part of the meeting,” Aldridge told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve known Kobe for years, living out in Newport Beach. He knows my kids. I’ve seen him with his daughters. We’ve always had a cordial relationship. I was kind of mad about how it got spun around that it was him that I had problems with – when he was actually the best part of it.”
As it was reported recently, Aldridge wanted to know more about the basketball side of things during his meeting with the Lakers. Aldridge didn’t get answers to those basketball-related questions he was asking leading to the veteran choosing to go to San Antonio, via Wojnarowski.
I was trying to ask more basketball-related questions,” Aldridge told Yahoo Sports. “I just had things that I wanted to know, to understand, on the basketball side. I get why they did what they did, coming from a small market, going to L.A., a whole different world, and they just wanted me to know about that world. I did try to bring it back toward basketball a couple times.”
Clearly, the Lakers front office dropped the ball in trying to recruit Aldridge to Los Angeles. Bryant seemed to be the only ray of hope for the Lakers, but the team fell short by failing to focus on the basketball sides of the things.
The Lakers front office will get their chance for redemption next summer with superstar Kevin Durant becoming an unrestricted free agent. Los Angeles are expected to make a hard push for Durant once he hits the open market in July and will need to rework their pitch in free agency if they hope to bring in a star of his caliber.