The Los Angeles Lakers' meeting with unrestricted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge is long in the past, but the wounds briefly re-opened when the All-Star power forward reflected on his experience with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Outside sources indicated Aldridge was unimpressed with the direction of the Lakers' presentation, and now that he's actually spoken about his experience, it seems very clear the Lakers misread and even ignored the problem at hand.
"I was trying to ask more basketball-related questions. I just had things that I wanted to know, to understand, on the basketball side," Aldridge told Yahoo Sports. "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."
This is exactly what was feared coming out of those meetings. The Lakers focused on being the Lakers, and the actual basketball talk was a distant second. Sure, they had a follow-up meeting to try and square some of that away, but the damage was already done. It was always a long shot to sign an established veteran like Aldridge, who had contending suitors lined up, but this is indicative of a bigger problem within the organization that needs to change in the coming months.
The Lakers can't afford this same debacle next summer. They can't host another big name free agent -- looking at you, Kevin Durant -- just to parade around their lush history and Southern California lifestyle. This is what makes the 1-7 start even more worrisome. The Lakers' youth are just barely getting a chance to spread their wings, and the on-court product has ranged from very bad to astoundingly awful for most of the first eight games thus far.
They can't look like a basketball train wreck all year. Again.
So when we worry about Byron Scott's offensive and defensive systems being archaic, it's not because the losses are going to pile up in the present. It's because the top players in the NBA want to play in the best situations, and the Lakers continue to look like one of the worst. It's because the Lakers, as a franchise, need to show they're investing in being the best basketball team in the world with all of that dinero they've spent decades counting up. Right now, the Lakers' most appealing draws are a trio of players that need to prove themselves this season, more cap space than any team in the league going forward, and those banners hanging in Staples Center.
Clearly, they'll need more than that to finally land a high caliber free agent. Hopefully this whole ordeal will serve as a lesson learned, not mistake repeated.
For more details on the Lakers' pitch, and how Kobe Bryant was actually the lone saving grace, you can check out the whole article from Wojnarowski on Yahoo Sports.