Over the past two seasons, in which the Los Angeles Lakers set new franchise lows with their record for two consecutive years, there was a lot of questioning whether the purple and gold would still be held in the same regard to free agents.The Lakers project to have as much as $23 million in cap space this summer, but will players still want to sign with them? Can the franchise fumigate the stink of all of those losses in time to recruit a big name, such as the team's much rumored pursuit of Portland Trail Blazers' big man LaMarcus Aldridge?
As you would expect in a league where seemingly every free agent is still linked to the Lakers, some around the NBA still fear the pull of Los Angeles. An anonymous league executive quoted by Baxter Holmes and Larry Coon of ESPN in their latest report investigating whether or not the Lakers will have pull in free agency had this to say:
"[The Lakers] just need one big guy to go there, and the rest will follow. I expect [Russell] Westbrook and [James] Harden to join forces there when they become free. It definitely still has allure. It's still L.A., and they are still the Lakers. No free agent can question whether or not they will spend the money to win titles."
Part of the "allure" of the Lakers, according to an earlier report from Sean Deveney of Sporting News, is the Lakers getting the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. The team selected D'Angelo Russell, who forms a promising young trio with second-round steal Jordan Clarkson and 2014 lottery selection Julius Randle. Russell is already recruiting Aldridge to Los Angeles, while Kobe Bryant is putting in calls to DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers. It remains to be seen if any of these things bring a big name to the Lakers, but it sounds like Los Angeles landing its next star is more of a matter of when than if.