The Los Angeles Lakers are days way from taking a shot at landing an elite free agent, and LaMarcus Aldridge is emerging as their top priority. Aldridge has reportedly made it clear to the Portland Trail Blazers he intends to sign elsewhere this summer, and Los Angeles is said to be one of his top destinations. The Lakers will offer Aldridge a four-year, $80 million contract when they make their pitch to the big man, reports Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
Get our brand new Russell shirt!
Aldridge would give the Lakers' frontcourt and future a stable presence while their young core develops. It might be difficult to pitch joining what appears to be a rebuilding franchise, however, creating a challenge for the front office to overcome. LaMarcus turns 30 in July and has yet to make a deep playoff run. The Lakers are a storied franchise with the championship trophies to back it up, but they've also missed the playoffs for back-to-back seasons and have been rolling through low points.
Is LA to LA that far-fetched, though? He already owns a home in southern California and apparently is quite familiar with the Lakers' victory song, according to Bresnahan:
All their financial eggs now go into the big-man basket. They want to talk to LaMarcus Aldridge, he wants to listen, and if all goes well for both sides, the four-time All-Star signs a four-year, $80-million deal to be the Lakers' power forward. Free agency begins Tuesday and Aldridge turns 30 two weeks later, a minor asterisk for a player who averaged a career-high 23.4 points last season and also 10.2 rebounds.
Portland made it past the first round once in Aldridge's nine years there, and though the Lakers were coming off their worst season ever (21-61, ugh), you can bet they'd pitch him on a rapid revival. Aldridge already owns a home in Orange County, his initials are tailor-made for the Lakers, and it just so happens that his good plays were rewarded at Portland home games by an audio snippet of Randy Newman's "I Love L.A."
There are certainly fit concerns here, especially if the indications are that Aldridge will be slotted as the Lakers' power forward. Depth in the frontcourt is great, but there's a gaping hole at center that was not addressed on draft night when the team decided D'Angelo Russell would be the talent to lead their rebuild. The Lakers are expected to decline the $9 million option on Jordan Hill, while Ed Davis will opt-out of his final year with the team. That leaves Tarik Black, Robert Sacre and Las Vegas Summer League invitee Robert Upshaw as the lone centers on the roster.
Aldridge has traditionally been slotted at power forward with another big playing center, but he's also spent time at the five throughout his career. It's still too far out to have a clear idea about what kind of rotation would work, and if both the Lakers and LaMarcus are open to envisioning an Aldridge-Randle pairing. Considering the Lakers would be spending a huge chunk of their available salary cap, it will definitely be a point of discussion while Aldridge maps out his next career move.
The Lakers are expected to make their case to unrestricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan, who's arguably a clearer fit for the current state of their roster, but he's considered "Plan B." They could also seek out a center in free agency or via trade, depending on how things progress once teams can officially make their pitch.
Signing a player as talented as Aldridge would be a big step for the Lakers, though. Even if he doesn't address their need for a center, Los Angeles is working toward constructing an appealing roster for the foreseeable future as well. LaMarcus might be looking for a more established situation after spending his career without a championship run, but if he's willing to hear out the vision Mitch Kupchak has for the future, they might be on the cusp of making one of the biggest signings of the summer.