We’re just four days removed from the NBA Draft that saw the Los Angeles Lakers swing for the fences by taking D’Angelo Russell over Jahlil Okafor.
Before the excitement could even subside, the team and its fans have rapidly shifted their focus to the NBA free agency period, which is set to begin Tuesday night at 12:01 AM ET when the calendar officially turns the page to July 1.
Rumors and reports are out in full swing as the Lakers hope to make an even bigger splash in the free agent market than the one they made on draft day. With approximately $23 million to spend, Los Angeles can afford to offer a maximum contract of their choosing. Since they chose the dynamic Russell with their coveted No. 2 pick, Los Angeles will certainly look to nab a supremely talented big man, and they might be getting a rare recruiting assist from the Black Mamba himself.
According to Broderick Turner of the LA Times, Kobe Bryant has reached out to DeAndre Jordan to notify him of the Lakers’ interest in bringing him over to the city’s preeminent sports franchise.
This comes as quite the surprise considering Kobe has openly expressed on numerous occasions that he’s generally not the type to recruit free agents, stating his preference to sit back and let the front office do their job.
A Wednesday meeting has been arranged between Jordan and the Lakers, along with several other teams, before he meets with the Clippers last on Thursday.
Even though LaMarcus Aldridge looms large as a viable option for the Lakers to offer a max contract, No. 24 chose the best player on the market to recruit for his team.
Before you take that statement as an endorsement of Jordan being a better player than Aldridge — just don’t. I love Aldridge’s game, and him and Julius Randle would be so much fun to watch on the offensive end, but they’d probably struggle severely on the defensive side of the ball.
With Jordan Clarkson, Russell, Bryant and Randle, the team has some dynamic offensive talent. What they don’t have are elite defenders. Could the young guys improve their defensive prowess? Of course, but it’s going to take some time, and by time, I mean a few years.
Now, I’m certainly not opposed to an Aldridge signing by any means. In fact, I’d be ecstatic if LA came to LA. But he’s going to turn 30-years old next month, which doesn’t really fit with the youth movement that the Lakers seem to be aiming for.
Jordan on the other hand, will turn 27 next month, which is clearly more aligned with the direction the team is headed. Not only is he three years younger, but he also fits perfectly as something the currently constructed roster desperately needs: an elite rim protector and defensive anchor.
Sure, Jordan has some notable flaws in his game that could lead some to believe he isn’t worth a max contract. He can’t create offense for himself or others and he’s an atrocious free throw shooter.
However, what he does bring to the table is worth max-level money for the purple and gold, especially when the salary cap undergoes a massive increase next summer, making the potential contract look far less daunting. Plus, the Lakers would essentially be getting him during the latter stages of his prime years, as the contract would end when he’s 31, or 30 if he elected to opt out after the third year.
Along with his superb shot blocking ability that made him a serious candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, Jordan would give the Lakers a freak athlete that can authoritatively finish off plays with thunderous dunks he’d be sure to receive with Russell, Kobe, Clarkson and an underrated passer in Randle making plays for him. The amount of pick-and-roll scenarios would be endless.
He’d also provide the team with a phenomenal rebounder — one that snatched 15 (!!) rebounds per game during his 2014-15 campaign. Not to mention how fun this group would be in transition, hopefully pushing the pace as often as possible.
Besides, you don’t need an offensive guru at all five positions on the floor together. You need guys that fit a role and know what their limitations are.
Although Aldridge is the better player and would make the Laker offense presumably a complete joy to watch on a nightly basis, Jordan is seemingly a perfect fit for this young group, as he’d help diminish the most glaring weakness of the currently constructed roster.
It’ll take one hell of a sales pitch for the rebuilding Lakers to pry Jordan away from the other teams in line to recruit him, but when Kobe is reaching out to you, that’s saying something. Will it be enough to tip the scales in the Lakers’ favor? We’ll know soon enough.