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Lakers offseason better than perception
- Updated: July 20, 2014
After missing out on both Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason have responded with a flurry of moves to revamp their roster, which for the most part have gone to waist side for most Lakers fans.
It was not due to the lack of trying to land both James and Anthony, but rather that each player did not see Los Angeles as a team that could win a title within the next couple of seasons with much uncertainty surrounding the roster.
For starters, the possibility of landing James was seen as a long shot at best, given that it was a forgone conclusion he would either re-sign with the Miami Heat or return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This in turn meant that Los Angeles would need to convincingly blow away James’ agent, Rich Paul, in their presentation. However, it seemed that the four-time league MVP had his mind made up prior to the meeting between Lakers’ management and Paul.
The team also put much effort into landing Anthony by meeting with him for nearly three hours at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. The sit down included a short film that was created by movie producer Joel Silver, his No. 7 jersey in a team uniform, and holding the meeting in Jeanie Buss’s office, where the 10 championship trophies that the organization has won since moving to Los Angeles reside. Kobe Bryant also met with Anthony later that night to discuss the possibility of playing together.
Their presentation was so well put together that at one point Anthony had considered them a “serious contender” for his services next season, but as time progressed Los Angeles seemingly fell out of contention for the seven-time All-Star.
The Lakers had put all their eggs in the basket for this offseason to have the financial flexibility to pursue top-tier free agents like James and Anthony. They were able to do that, but again it falls back to the unknown surrounding the roster, with at the time of the meetings just three players under contract in Bryant, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre. This not including the two draft selections the team made in Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson.
There was also much concern about both Bryant and Nash’s health as they are each coming off serious injuries that prevented them from playing much of last season. Bryant was limited to playing in just six games because of his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon, and a prolonged recovery from a fracture in his left knee that had persistent swelling and soreness. In Nash’s case, his health issues have all stemmed from the fractured left leg he suffered two seasons ago that have now progressed to nerve damage in both his lower back and leg.
What may have also hurt the Lakers’ chances was the fact that the team still has no head coach in place. That in itself could have been perceived as instability and another reason why each chose to go elsewhere. The lack of a head coach gives the team no true identity as to what type of team and what game plan they will have moving forward.
So looking through the point of view from Anthony and James, it would have been difficult to choose the Lakers over the other teams pursuing their services such as the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and even the Phoenix Suns for that matter. In all reality it was more of a pipe dream for Los Angeles to land either player.
However, what can’t be forgotten in the process is that the Lakers did make a valiant effort to try and persuade both Anthony and James. They just simply happened to strikeout on both players. Los Angeles knowing that, moved quickly that same day to reshape their roster by making a handful of moves.
The team made the transaction to acquire Jeremy Lin, a future first round pick, and a 2015 second round selection from the Houston Rockets in exchange for the rights to Sergei Lishchuk. The Lakers also re-signed Nick Young (four years, $21.5 million) and Jordan Hill (two years, $18 million).
They continued to shape the roster in the following few days as they signed Randle to his rookie contract, inked former Grizzlies big man Ed Davis to a two-year deal, and were awarded with former Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer on amnesty waivers with their $3.25 million bid on him in a blind auction. They also re-signed a trio of forwards in Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly,
Yes, Los Angeles could have gone in another direction this offseason by pursuing both Isaiah Thomas, who signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Phoenix Suns, and Lance Stephenson, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets, but they chose to act according to what they felt best suited the team.
This is not to forget that their efforts and free agent signings have also been to the liking of the franchise’s most important player over the next two seasons.
“I can sit here and tell you with 100 percent honesty that I’m happy with the effort the organization put forward this summer,” Bryant said.
“I think Mitch has responded quite efficiently by picking up some of the pieces he has,” Bryant said. “It’s my job to go out there next season and lay it all out there on the line and get us to that elite level.
The Lakers also appear to be closing in on their next head coach with Byron Scott going through his third interview with the team this past week. Although it may not have been the prosperous summer that Los Angeles had hoped for, they have made the effort to put together a team that looks to be much improved and will certainly do better than the forgettable 2013-14 regular season.
Again, it may not be the ideal free agency period that Lakers fans had in mind, but things could have turned out much worse. Who knows, this upcoming season could be a pleasant consolation prize.
Photo Credit: Noah Graham/Getty Images