Free agents doubt Lakers are 'cutting edge', according to report

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Have free agents begun to doubt the Lakers front office?

The Los Angeles Lakers are entering a new era of basketball dominated by advanced statistics and a restrictive collective bargaining agreement, and an opposing coach told Ric Bucher that free agents no longer view the franchise on the "cutting edge" regarding marketing, physical therapy and analytics in a recent profile of the organization for The Hollywood Reporter:

A longtime opposing assistant coach adds that free agents feel the Lakers' track record is impressive but the team is not on the cutting edge when it comes to marketing, physical therapy or analytics. The sense is that institutional arrogance has caused a slow but evident decay. "It hurts to hear that," says Jeanie, without contesting it.

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey started the Sloan Sports Conference, the premier annual basketball analytics conference held in Boston, in 2007 but the Lakers have never sent a representative from their basketball operations. Lakers general Mitch Kupchak stated that the organization will send personnel for the the first time in 2014 however, reports ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

Tim Leiweke, former CEO and president of AEG, believes Dr. Jerry Buss' voice wasn't "aggressive as in the past" during the lockout and ultimately hurt large market teams like the Lakers and New York Knicks, according to Bucher:

"Because of his illness, his voice and leadership weren't as aggressive as in the past," says Tim Leiweke, who worked with Dr. Buss when Leiweke was president and CEO of Staples Center owner Anschutz Entertainment Group. "He wasn't there to fight for their view of the world, and this new deal is tougher on them than anybody other than maybe New York."

The Lakers have maintained their future cap space in the meantime as Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant combine for $49 million worth of expiring salary in 2014. This will be the Lakers' first opportunity to rebuild through free agency since the new collective bargaining agreement has been implemented, which is an aspect Mitch Kupchak has previously stated the front office is in "control" of.

If free agents do doubt the Lakers leadership, however, Kupchak's "control" over finding the the next Lakers star and supporting cast over the next two summers could prove to be a difficult task.

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