The Los Angeles Lakers have quite the reputation for shooting for the stars, swinging for the fences, or whatever metaphor you want to use.
Throughout their history, the Lakers have pulled off monumental acquisitions, whether it be through the NBA Draft, free agency or via trades. It is a significant reason why they have found unparalleled, consistent success over the last 60-plus years.
But now, it appears they are taking it to another level, despite the reality check that has presented itself in the last three free agency periods.
In 2013, Dwight Howard left the Lakers for the Houston Rockets. The year after, Carmelo Anthony elected to stay with the New York Knicks instead of joining his pal Kobe Bryant in purple and gold, and LaMarcus Aldridge joined a title contender last summer by signing with the San Antonio Spurs after meeting with the Lakers twice.
This year, the Lakers are doing everything they can just to get a meeting with this year’s coveted free agent, Kevin Durant. To this point, they have been unable to do so, but Los Angeles will not give up that easily, despite reports of them having no chance at prying away the Thunder superstar.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports that the Lakers plan to contact Durant and his representatives on July 1st and would be “shocked” if he won’t at least hear them out.
The Lakers are still in a rebuilding phase, and simply can’t offer an immediate winner to Durant like the teams he’s slated to meet with can. However, that is not deterring the Lakers from their efforts, due to being able to offer something that a lot of teams can’t this summer.
The Lakers believe they have a pitch that will appeal to Durant and other free agents, said the source with knowledge of the team’s thinking. With the ability to clear more than $60 million in cap space, they will attempt to sell stars on the potential of joining the Lakers with another top-tier free agent, the source said.
“We want to pitch guys on combinations, as opposed to just one guy,” the source said. “We’ll say to a guy, ‘Who do you want to play with? We’ve got the room to go get him.'”
The Lakers certainly appear to have a bright future, led by their young core that just added Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac in the 2016 NBA Draft, along with new man at the helm, Luke Walton.
With that promise and upside, comes more growing pains. Los Angeles is likely still a season or two away from making the playoffs, barring a drastic roster upgrade in free agency. Landing Durant and another quality free agent or two would certainly help on that front, but with so much youth on the roster, the Lakers would still need a miracle to be title contenders out West right from the get-go, and Durant desperately wants to win his first NBA championship.
Perhaps the Lakers can convince some more realistic options like Hassan Whiteside to come aboard, but while their persistence for Durant is admirable, it may be time to move on to Plan B.