clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lakers Free Agency: The Lakers not signing big names on Day 1 of free agency isn't a failure

It's day one. Everybody take a deep breath.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers missing out on big names in free agency doesn't mean they've failed. It's easy to overreact to the Lakers inability to sign any top-talent right away while the pool of available players is drying out. The individual context each of these situations is important to keep in mind, though. It isn't really an indictment of the Lakers that the names they have been linked to in rumors since the NBA Finals ended are signing elsewhere.

Get our brand new Russell shirt!

From early on it seemed LaMarcus Aldridge was leaning toward signing with the San Antonio Spurs or another win-now team. Aldridge is 30 years old and will be offered a max contract from any suitor, so he is essentially deciding which environment he thinks will fit while giving him the best chance to contend immediately. When faced with the option to go home to Texas (Aldridge is from Dallas) with no state income tax and a more competitive team in the Spurs as the heir to Tim Duncan, of course he'll prefer that opportunity over joining a rebuilding Lakers team. Aldridge also reportedly did not like the basketball portion of the Lakers' presentation, which makes sense given his long-stated preference to play power forward.

In the case of Kevin Love, if you just watched LeBron drag that depleted Cavaliers roster through the 2015 NBA Finals, you would want to re-sign there too. Especially if you had $110 million in front of you while still rehabbing from a dislocated shoulder surgery. Tyson Chandler? The Suns got him to commit to a four-year, $52 million contract, which was probably more than the Lakers were prepared to offer a 32-year old center. DeAndre Jordan would be a perfect fit, but seems like a long shot signing.

Some of this outrage at the Lakers' "failure" is surely due to nearly every free agent being linked to the Lakers at some point or another in the offseason, sometimes confusing fans to a hilarious degree. In other cases it is due to hot-take posturing of the local sports columnist. However, it is still the first day of free agency. The Lakers have plenty of time to fill out the rest of their roster with players who may fit their growth window better than some of the veterans that are being snatched up to big money contracts. I would argue it's better for the Lakers to have not secured any commitments than to have given $30 million over four-years to Al-Farouq Aminu.

So if you want to call Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak, or the Lakers as a whole a failure for not being LeBron James, or the Spurs, or not willing to overpay for players that don't fit cleanly with the current roster direction that's fine. But understand that in this case, other teams being more attractive to veteran free agents like Love and Aldridge was always a more realistic result than them signing on to get in on the ground floor of the Lakers' rebuild. With some patience and development from D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and the other young players slowly accumulating in Los Angeles, the Lakers could be the type of destination a free agent wants to sign on to put over the top in a few years.

Today may not be that day, but with their young trio and Kobe Bryant in tow, the Lakers will still be infinitely more exciting to watch this season than they have been in years. That is worth something, as long as you can adjust your expectations.