Day 1 of free agency was one of the most action-packed openings to the summer event in recent memory. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan began their NBA tour, Kevin Love announced he's staying in Cleveland while the Cavaliers prepare to pay big bucks for LeBron James' next team, and several key free agents locked up deals elsewhere.
The Los Angeles Lakers have come up empty-handed thus far without a clear backup plan that's been reported on. Mitch Kupchak and the basketball operations team could be working on various scenarios with their high-profile meetings all in the books, but there's no telling what's going on behind closed doors. Their options have become limited, though, while all of their outgoing free agents have yet to sign deals elsewhere.
Tobias Harris might be the best player that fits their youth movement and roster needs left that the Lakers can make a move for, but his availability depends on whether or not the Orlando Magic will match an offer sheet. A report from Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe indicated the Magic weren't interested in matching a maximum-level contract, but that might not be the case.
One of the reasons the Boston Celtics backed off of pursuing Harris is because belief surfaced the Magic were "willing to pay big to match any offer," according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:
Sources from other teams and within the player rep community say the C's were also in play for Tobias Harris and Corey Brewer, but as of late last night, those pursuits have ended.
The Celts had a certain financial parameter in mind for Harris, and when it became clear that Orlando was willing to pay big to match any offer for the restricted free agent, they were out of the running.
Making things more complicated, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders asserts that Harris' camp has fielded several calls and will have multiple offers to choose from. One of the complications in signing Tobias to an offer sheet early in the free agency process is it would allow Orlando a full week to consider their options before the three-day period they have to match begins. Since Harris can't officially agree to an offer sheet until July 9, the Magic would have less pressure to make an immediate decision, allowing them to work their options to potentially find a way to match,
The Lakers still lack a staring-quality center, however, and might be pressed to address this roster need next. Robin Lopez remains as one of the best available big men, but it's unclear what kind of contract he's looking for. Omer Asik set an expensive bar to clear when he signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. Ed Davis and Jordan Hill are still floating in free agency, but it's coming down to the last few frontcourt players the Lakers should take a flier on.
The big free agency decisions aren't official yet, but the buzz out of Day 1 has been pessimistic for the Lakers. It's still early in the process, though, and eventually the front office will begin filling out the roster with signings. We'll see if Day 2 brings the Lakers' first signing of the free agency period.